DISH and Helium brings 5G and blockchain closer

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The latest tip-up between the US-based DISH and Helium Inc opens future avenues around 5G and blockchain usage in combination to create new business models.

DISH Network – a US-based connectivity company and Helium Inc – a decentralized unlicensed wireless networks provider have announced a partnership in the areas of open source and low-cost wireless connectivity.

Interestingly, DISH will leverage Helium Networks’ blockchain-based incentive model with 5G CBRS-based hotspots. This is probably the first engagement to bring 5G and blockchain technology closer, which leads to future avenues of innovation and benefits to businesses and people.

Blockchain-based Helium Network is a consumer-deployed, decentralized wireless infrastructure that helps to deliver data-forwarding hotspots. Using these hotspots in closed areas like homes, offices or facilities can enable customers with better 5G wireless coverage coupled with CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) spectrum.

In return, the company will reward customers with $HNT – a Helium network-based token as part of incentives. According to Helium, its blockchain-based Helium Network is creating a new wireless economy with a new economic model called the burn-and-mint equilibrium (BNM).

The DISH and Helium tie-up is actually leveraging 5G and blockchain together, leading to a new economic model through incentives and rewards.

“By rewarding consumers with cryptocurrency in exchange for deploying Helium Network gateways, Helium’s approach can begin to topple the long-standing model of network deployment in which an operator buys, deploys and controls all of their own network equipment,” said Tammy Parker, Principal Analyst – GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

“Helium has already proved that blockchain technology and bitcoin incentivization can be used to create a crowdsourced communications network,” added Parker,

“The company is expanding on its experience as a decentralized provider of LoRaWAN connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT) by doing the same for 5G cellular network offloading for IoT devices and smartphones operating in the CBRS band,” informed Parket.

In terms of Helium’s decentralized wireless network coverage, it has over 240,000 LoRA-based hotspots across 21,000 cities in North America, Europe and Asia. It has more than 500,000 additional hotspots currently back-ordered. Over 50 new manufacturers are waiting to be approved to build and sell Helium-compatible hardware.

While DISH Network has been very active on the blockchain front since 2014 by becoming the first subscription-based TV provider to accept Bitcoin. It also added Bitcoin Cash as a payment mode in 2018 and went ahead to form partnered with GoChain for its public network and offer different blockchain-based services jointly.

“DISH is the first cellular network partner that will use the Helium Network to augment coverage, but it will not be the last. Other U.S. mobile network operators and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are likely assessing how they might employ Helium’s approach for network densification,” commented Parker.

As Helium 5G network is relying on the US-only CBRS band, it is restricted to the US region. “However, the decentralized densification model can be applied to other spectrum bands in other nations, opening up potential partnerships with 5G network operators worldwide for Helium,” concludes Parker.

Telecom industry experts consider CBRS as a version of private LTE (Long-Term Evolution) standard in the 3.5 GHz spectrum and it can play a significant role in solving connectivity issues and challenges.

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