Nova Labs Inks Agreement With T-Mobile to Cover 5G Dead Spots in Helium Network

Terms of the five-year agreement with the wireless giant weren't disclosed.

AccessTimeIconSep 20, 2022 at 3:21 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 4:57 p.m. UTC

Nova Labs, the company behind the crypto-powered wireless network Helium, said subscribers will get U.S. nationwide 5G coverage through a new five-year agreement with cellular giant T-Mobile.

Under the deal, Nova Labs also will be able to offer mobile products and services that use both networks, according to a press release. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

“The announcement comes as Nova Labs plans to launch Helium Mobile, which will enable subscribers to earn crypto rewards for using the network,” said the press release.

Under the agreement, Nova Labs will be able to use T-Mobile’s nationwide network to provide coverage for Helium mobile customers in places where the Helium 5G network doesn't exist, said Boris Renski, general manager of wireless at Nova Labs, in an interview with CoinDesk.

Renski said that Helium will be paying T-Mobile for its Helium mobile subscribers in the areas where it does not have coverage. There's a map showing where there are currently 5G radios offering coverage.

“It's not perfect coverage and there's a lot of dead spots,” said Renski.

“But with the model that we are pursuing, it's important to understand we are not looking to replace large mobile operators with our network, we are building a network that could be a complement to the existing macro network of the operators,” he said.

A beta version of the service is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2023, according to Nova Labs.

The Helium Network is a decentralized grid of wireless hotspots that aims to provide an alternative to hard-wired internet or mobile data service. There are currently 900,000 hotspots worldwide.

“T-Mobile is excited to support Nova Labs’ innovation in this new crypto-powered space by enabling their mobility on the nation’s largest, fastest and most reliable nationwide 5G network,” Dan Thygesen, senior vice president of T-Mobile Wholesale, said in the press release.

Press officials for T-Mobile described the deal in an email as a "standard wholesale/MVNO agreement" that's available to paying wholesale customers. An MVNO – or "mobile virtual network operator" when spelled out – is a wireless communications provider that doesn't own the underlying network infrastructure; this type of agreement allows for the purchase of airtime at wholesale rates.


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Lyllah Ledesma is a CoinDesk Markets reporter currently based in Europe. She holds bitcoin, ether and small amounts of other crypto assets.

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