What is Helium 5G & How Does it Work?

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For more information about Helium 5G, please visit their official webpage at https://www.helium.com/5G

Availability

At current, Helium 5G mining is only available to United States customers. This is because Helium 5G utilizes Citizen's Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) technology for its radios to provide cellular connections for phones, which only formally exists in the United States at this time.

Nova Labs are hard at work finalizing HIP-64 which we expect will enable cellular traffic offloading via WiFi, rather than CBRS radio. If this passes, we expect Helium 5G mining to become available outside of the United States. For the most up-to-date information regarding HIP-64, refer to the HIP-64 channel on the Helium Official Discord.

Bobcat & Helium 5G 

With the Helium 5G rollout, Bobcat and FreedomFi will use the CBRS spectrum (aka mid-band 5G spectrum) and provide a 5G-compliant architecture for the network core that runs on the Gateway. The first cellular radio that was certified by FreedomFi as part of this bundle is LTE. According to FreedomFi, LTE small cells are cheaper and more phones can connect to them. With pure 5G small cells, users today would gain nothing more than higher equipment costs and a shorter phone compatibility list. As “high-band” 5G small cells operating in the mmWave frequencies become more common-place and increase in affordability, FreedomFi will certify those radios, so the Bobber 500 gateway owners will be able to plug them into the gateway without needing to buy a different 5G Gateway.

Bobber 500 and 5G Coverage

According to our partner FreedomFi, whose firmware image runs on our Bobber 500 gateway, 5G is an architecture standard for cellular wireless networks that cover:

The architecture of the software (aka the network core) and the architecture of the radio hardware. 

Contrary to the common belief, 5G is not specific to a frequency band and is not the same as high-frequency mmWave. 5G CBRS uses much of the same frequencies as LTE.

FreedomFi 5G hotspots and the Bobber 500 both utilize Magma Mobile Core technology to accomplish cellular data offloading. For detailed information on how Magma makes this possible, check out our article covering the basics of Magma Mobile Core.

Device Connectivity 

As of December 2022, the only way to connect your own phone to your self-deployed Helium Indoor Small Cell is to download and install the GigSky eSim app on a CBRS-compatible phone or purchase and install a FreedomFi SIM card. Please note that your phone must be CBRS-band compatible and have an eSIM or FreedomFi physical SIM installed. 

In the future, we expect to see more Helium compatible SIM cards that will allow you to connect any CBRS-band compatible device to the Helium 5G network without using an eSIM or a third-party app. Helium Mobile is also expected to launch soon, at which point Helium Mobile subscribers will be able to connect to and offload data through any Helium 5G hotspot which will earn the hotspot owner MOBILE token rewards. At this stage, the data on your self-deployed Helium 5G network will always be free to you.

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