Nova Labs enters MVNO deal with T-Mobile US to bolster Helium network

The deal will provide subscribers with access to the peer-deployed Helium 5G network, as well as T-Mobile US’ 5G network

Amid preparations for the launch of Helium Mobile, a mobile service that will enable subscribers to earn crypto rewards for using the network, Nova Labs has announced a five-year agreement with T-Mobile US. According to the company, this will allow Helium Mobile uses to access both the local, peer-deployed Helium 5G network and the T-Mobile US 5G network in an arrangement that it said was the first MVNO of its kind.

Dan Thygesen, senior vice president of T-Mobile Wholesale, said in a press statement that the carrier was drawn to Helium Mobile because it felt it is “pursuing a very nascent and exciting market segment.” 

In June, Nova Labs revealed the new mobile crypto token, which will reward
those who operate a 5G node and contribute coverage to Helium’s network. The
network runs on the company’s CBRS network and operates a bring your own device (BYOD) model; however, Nova Labs is partnering with select cell phone manufacturers on “specialized, crypto-friendly cell phone devices.” These, said the company, will be more efficient at validating network coverage, and therefore, at earning more mobile tokens. Users can also earn additional cryptocurrency by agreeing to share their network usage information with Nova Labs, which will enable Nova Labs to conduct coverage checks and determine ideal locations for future CBRS sites.

Commercial mobile service is expected to kick into its beta phase in early 2023 and will provide U.S. nationwide 5G coverage.

“Nova Labs is committed to building out a decentralized network. Our new agreement with T-Mobile gives our subscribers nationwide 5G coverage and enables us to offer mobile products and services that use both networks” said Amir Haleem, CEO of Nova Labs and founder of Helium. “5G infrastructure can be accessible to anyone at a much faster pace by enabling the community to help build and use the Helium network, especially in hard-to-reach places.” 

To accelerate its Helium Network rollout, Nova Labs last month acquired long-time partner FreedomFi, which already provides software and small cell hardware for the incentivized 5G network. 

According to the Helium hotspot tracker, there are approximately 4,600 5G/LTE radios active and registered on the Helium Network, and as Nova Labs’ COO Frank Mong and FreedomFi’s co-founder and CEO Boris Rens told RCR Wireless News, FreedomFi has shipped out between 10,000 and 12,000 gateways. These numbers, the pair said, suggest that the network is growing at an impressive rate.

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