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Crypto Wireless Carrier Helium Mobile Will Power Solana’s Saga Smartphone

Solana Labs’ upcoming Android phone can use Helium’s hybrid carrier, which fuses its decentralized network with T-Mobile’s 5G.

3 min read
Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko debuts the Solana Saga smartphone. Image: Solana Labs

In brief

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

Decentralized, crypto-fueled wireless network Helium recently voted to move from its own platform to Solana, a leading layer-1 blockchain network. Now that alliance is set to get even stronger, with Helium and Solana bringing their respective mobile initiatives together.

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

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

Boris Renski, GM of wireless at Nova Labs—the startup that represents the founders of and core contributors to the Helium network—told Decrypt that the partnership is a “natural fit.”

"Not only will this partnership ultimately drive usage to the Helium Network,” he said, “but Saga customers who sign up for Helium Mobile will be able to have a seamless and integrated user experience and could earn crypto rewards for using their cell service.”

Announced in September, Helium Mobile is the first crypto-fueled wireless carrier, created in partnership with major wireless service, T-Mobile. Helium Mobile pulls its coverage both from the decentralized Helium 5G 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 currently spans just over 6,700 antennas deployed by individual users. It’s worth noting that Helium’s developers have clarified that while the network is capable of supporting 5G radios, the early devices available on the market are limited to slower 4G LTE.

Nova Labs has said that Helium Mobile will offer plans as cheap as $5 per month. Furthermore, users can opt into earning crypto tokens by sharing location data with the network, as they’ll help Helium Mobile stabilize its coverage in the process.

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

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