New scheme will use cryptocurrency as an incentive to install 5G small cells in the US

FreedomFi Gateway (Image credit: Helium)

Open 5G company, FreedomFi, and Helium, who specialise in decentralised wireless networks, have announced their partnership, which will help mobile network operators accelerate their 5G coverage. This will be made possible with FreedomFi Gateways, a consumer-deployed connectivity device that pairs with 5G antennas.

“The step needed to help supercharge private 5G deployment.”

Michael O’Rielly.

“This exciting news by Helium and FreedomFi highlights a great new path to utilize CBRS and delivers on the promise of innovation and creativity always envisioned out of the band,” said former FCC Commissioner, Michael O’Rielly. “Turning consumer gateways into network distribution tools and merging with ultra-hot cryptocurrency — consistent with the companies’ plans — may just be the step needed to help supercharge private 5G deployment. Now we get to see if the market agrees,” continued O’Rielly.

Mining HNT Cryptocurrency in exchange for 5G coverage

The new 5G technology, FreedomFi Gateways, has been designed to interoperate with the Helium Network, which enables gateway hosts to mine HNT, the native cryptocurrency of the Helium Network, by providing 5G cellular coverage.

“The perfect way to augment the existing capacity of macro-cell tower operators”

Boris Renski, FreedomFi

“FreedomFi Gateways are the perfect way to augment the existing capacity of macro-cell tower operators. We’re able to use CBRS small cells in urban areas to rapidly add density to the network at no expense to the operators. Our consumer-first approach is an exciting telecom innovation. We are already in talks with several mobile network operators (MNOs) and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) about using the Helium Network and the coverage created by FreedomFi Gateways to augment their 5G footprint in the United States,” said Boris Renski, CEO at FreedomFi. “Many operators have been offloading their cell towers into consumer-deployed Wi-Fi access points in a pattern referred to as Carrier Wi-Fi. We are extending this trend to 5G small cells and innovating on how operators get compensated for maintaining cellular infrastructure,” he continued.

Running on a combination of Magma open source 5G software and the open source Helium blockchain in a single device, FreedomFi Gateways will make it possible for hosts to receive a direct economic stake in the 5G networks they power. The network will utilise CBRS spectrum band that has been made available in the US by the FCC in January of 2020.

Accelerating 5G coverage

Helium has a unique reward structure paired with accessible, inexpensive CBRS small cells, which together creates a mechanism for both consumers and businesses to accelerate 5G coverage.

“An entirely new way to deploy 5G networks”

Amir Haleem, Helium

“The People’s Network is now opening up 5G to everyone,” said Amir Haleem, Helium CEO and co-founder. “FreedomFi's approach to deploying 5G networks, based on open source and CBRS shared spectrum, makes it an order of magnitude less expensive and easier to install a 5G access point than traditional cell towers. Using a blockchain-based incentive model, FreedomFi and Helium are pioneering an entirely new way to deploy 5G networks.”

FreedomFi Gateways are available to pre-order now and the companies say they are expected to ship in the third quarter of 2021. The new 5G network will rollout to selected US cities throughout 2021. The partnering companies say they expect to expand into other countries and cover a variety of spectrum bands in forthcoming years.

Rachael Sharpe

Rachael is a British journalist with 17 years experience in the publishing industry. Since launching, she’s been freelancing, and working for some of the world’s best-loved websites and magazines including and and has also had a book, iPad for Photographers, published. A regular contributor at 5Gradar, Rachael is following the 5G market closely. Find out more at