In the coming year, we’re committed to launching exciting products that will benefit both subscribers and the larger Helium ecosystem and want to share the high-level direction with our community.
These products are designed to accelerate coverage and network verification, which will ultimately benefit both subscribers and coverage providers, while also validating this new, innovative economic model for future forward-thinking carriers.
In 2022, as the mobile wireless arm of Nova Labs, we announced Helium Mobile, a new type of wireless carrier, and in 2023 we’re laser-focused on:
- delivering Helium Mobile, a new type of carrier
- building products to accelerate and validate Helium 5G network coverage
- working with the Helium Foundation and the community to help shape the Helium 5G network
In a nutshell, 2023 will feature:
- beta launch of Helium Mobile in Q2
- the ability for Helium Mobile users to earn MOBILE tokens
- the launch of both indoor (Q2) and outdoor (Q3) versions of the Helium Mobile Hotspot, an affordable hotspot that uses Wi-Fi to create network coverage for cell phones
- the launch of the Helium Mobile Spot (a dedicated hardware mapping device) in Q2 to validate useful network coverage
- collaboration with the Helium Foundation and the community via working groups to accelerate improvements for how useful coverage is defined and rewarded
The Helium Mobile community brings together technical and non-technical users, allowing participants to be rewarded for the value they add to the network. Reward allocation is ultimately determined by the community and the Foundation, but we expect rewards will be proportionate to the value provided.
More powerful, professional-grade solutions cost more, but also provide the opportunity to earn higher rewards from the network.
Given the price barrier and technical knowledge needed, expected deployment of professional-grade solutions will be fewer, but should add much greater value to the network.
Increasing network participation is an important goal and requires lowering both cost and technical barriers. To enable even more participation by community members to build and validate the network, and working within the Foundation’s guidelines, we plan to deliver affordable solutions that anyone can confidently deploy.
What we’re building
We spent the beginning of 2023 (and many months prior) laying the technical, sales, and marketing foundation for the products and services we’re launching in 2023.
While our carrier was announced months ago, we have also been focused on enabling the community to deploy and validate Helium 5G network coverage with launches for Helium Mobile Hotspot and Helium Mobile Spot (see below).
A new type of carrier
To ensure we can deliver a completely new type of carrier with world-class service, we will initially launch Helium Mobile Beta in the second quarter of 2023. The beta will be invitation-only for a limited number of users. Those on the waitlist will be given priority to participate (waitlist signup here).
The beta launch will enable us to:
- actively collect feedback to update and improve the service
- stress-test the service and its supporting systems
Beta users will be able to:
- sign up for a Helium Mobile plan and use the service at a promotional price
- earn MOBILE tokens as participant users of the service
- provide feedback on how to improve the service
After we feel confident that both the experience and service are world-class, we’ll exit beta and make Helium Mobile available to a broader audience. The exact timing for general availability depends on what we learn during the process.
You are the network
We envision a world of dynamic coverage that delivers seamless connectivity for users and devices provided by more efficient wireless networks. Instead of closed proprietary networks controlled by a few large companies, dynamic coverage combines multiple types of infrastructure that complement each other, including CBRS radios and others.
We believe this combination will enable the Helium 5G network to continually grow and deliver more prioritized coverage and increase resiliency, along with opening up network building to anyone who wants to participate.
Currently, to participate in providing Helium 5G network coverage, community members need to purchase professional-grade CBRS equipment and either navigate the involved set-up process or work with a professional installer. The Helium 5G network presently consists only of CBRS radios and gateway bundles, and as of this writing, there are over 8,000 radios deployed in 1,618 cities in 49 US states.
To lower the barrier to entry and help accelerate Helium 5G network coverage, we’re launching a new device, the Helium Mobile Hotspot, which will include both indoor and outdoor variants (indoor first).
The Helium Mobile Hotspots will use Wi-Fi to provide coverage and will have a significantly lower price point than the CBRS radios and gateway bundles. They will also be easier to set up, making participation much more accessible to a larger audience.
More participation by the community will accelerate the deployment of useful coverage and make the Helium Mobile carrier service more viable, but given the nature of less powerful hardware, it can be expected that Helium Mobile Hotspots may have shorter range than a CBRS deployment.
Although more expensive CBRS radio and gateway bundles are expected to earn more rewards than Helium Mobile Hotspots, both will play a strategic and complementary role in building Helium 5G network coverage.
Together, we believe these devices (and subsequent ones) will power the future of connectivity and enable more participation across the Helium ecosystem.
In upcoming blog posts, we will provide technical guidance and use cases to select “the right tool for the right job” so that users can take full advantage of both deployments and experience a new, seamless connectivity experience.
Similar to the IoT Hotspots, our plan is to prove that sufficient demand exists for Helium Mobile Hotspots and then work with the Helium Foundation to enable other hardware manufacturers to build their own.
Trust, but map
Providing reliable and useful coverage is critical to ensure success for Helium Mobile and future carriers using the Helium 5G network.
Working closely with the Helium Foundation and the broader community, we will continue to improve the framework for what defines useful coverage and how those providing coverage are rewarded by the network. We have proposed a working group that will allow us to quickly iterate and accelerate this process.
To help visualize useful coverage, the team built the Coverage Explorer, which allows users to see the quality of coverage provided by their setup based on modeled coverage data.
Mapping the Helium 5G network is an important activity that will help ensure useful coverage is being provided and rewarded accordingly. Mappers will earn rewards for their contributions of validating network coverage as stated in HIP 53 and be programmatically allocated by the blockchain.
In 2023, we’re launching Helium Mobile Spot, a hardware device dedicated to mapping the Helium 5G network. We plan to deliver a limited number of these to community members who are more technical and enjoy mapping wireless networks.
When we plan to deliver
Please treat these dates as our best current estimate given the information we have available as opposed to a firm commitment. Given the dynamic nature of our industry and the complexity of the solutions we’re building, dates are subject to change. What remains unchanged is our commitment to this community.
Q1 (January to March)
- Build Helium Mobile products and services
- Work closely with Helium Foundation and other community members to accelerate improvements for how useful coverage is defined and rewarded
Q2 (April to June)
- Launch Helium Mobile Beta
- Launch Helium Mobile Hotspot (indoor version)
- Launch Helium Mobile Spot
Q3 (July to September)
- Launch Helium Mobile Hotspot (outdoor version)
- Work with other manufacturers to build their own Mobile Hotspots
DISCLAIMER: The intent of publicly sharing this roadmap is to provide transparency with our community; however, it should not be interpreted as a commitment and is subject to change.
The road ahead
With your help, we are tackling many industry firsts and we're excited for you to join us on this journey. Stay tuned for updates on our plans over the next few weeks and months as we get closer to launches. And if you're not on the waitlist yet, sign up at hellohelium.com!