Crypto Wireless Carrier Helium Mobile will power Solana’s Saga smartphone

In short

  • The Solana Saga smartphone can be used on the future Helium Mobile network.
  • Helium Mobile combines the Helium 5G decentralized network with T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G network coverage.

Decentralized, crypto-powered wireless network Helium recently voted for switch from own platform to Solana, a leading layer 1 blockchain network. Now this alliance is set to grow even stronger, with Helium and Solana bringing together their respective mobile initiatives.

At Solana’s Breakpoint conference in Lisbon today, Helium and Solana Labs announced a partnership to bring the next Helium Mobile service—a smartphone carrier powered in part by T-Mobile—for Solana’s crypto-centric Saga smartphone. Both are expected to launch in early 2023.

The Android-powered Saga phone will come with a 30-day free trial for Helium Mobile in the US, offering unlimited voice and text usage during that time. The Saga phone will not be exclusive to Helium Mobile, however: a Helium representative clarified to Decrypt that the Solana Labs smartphone can be used with other carriers instead.

Boris Renski, general manager of wireless at Nova Laboratories—the startup that represents the founders and key contributors of the Helium network—said Decrypt partnership is a “natural fit”.

“Not only will this partnership ultimately result in the use of the Helium network,” he said, “but Saga customers who sign up for Helium Mobile will be able to benefit from a seamless and integrated user experience and could earn crypto rewards for using their cellular service.”

Announced in September, Helium Mobile is the first crypto-powered wireless carrier, created in partnership with leading wireless service, T-Mobile. Helium Mobile draws its coverage from both the Helium 5G decentralized network — with users running their own 5G nodes to share coverage in exchange for crypto tokens — and T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G service.

Helium’s 5G network is currently expanding just over 6,700 antennas deployed by individual users. It should be noted that Helium developers have clarified that if the network is capable of supporting 5G radios, the first devices available on the market are limited to slower 4G LTE.

Nova Labs said Helium Mobile will offer plans as cheap as $5 per month. Additionally, users can choose to earn crypto tokens by sharing location data with the network, as they will help Helium Mobile stabilize its coverage in the process.

Solana’s Saga smartphone was unveiled in June and provides high-end Android hardware at a price of $1,000. It is built around Solana Mobile Stack, a set of software that improves Web3 apps, and the phone can be used for crypto payments, as a NFT wallet, and more. Pre-orders are now open ahead of the early 2023 launch.

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