Sponsored By

Helium Mobile passes 30,000 customer mark

Helium Mobile executives are cheering a counting mechanism that shows the T-Mobile MVNO now has more than 30,000 customers. Helium Mobile launched nationwide unlimited mobile services in early December.

Mike Dano

January 4, 2024

4 Min Read
Friends during pool party using smartphones
(Source: Westend61 GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo)

Helium Mobile – a new T-Mobile MVNO that hails from the world of cryptocurrency – recently counted more than 30,000 customers. The figure is important because Helium Mobile has been offering unlimited mobile services nationwide at $20 per month – an aggressive price point – since early December.

Helium Mobile officials cheered the milestone on social media this week.

Helium Mobile is unique in the mobile industry for a number of reasons. One is because many of its operating metrics are publicly available.

As reported by Light Reading, Helium Mobile subscribers previously could choose to put an NFT (non-fungible token, which supports location monitoring) onto their phone. Doing so permitted Helium Mobile to learn where its customers congregated, thereby allowing the company to encourage users to deploy Helium Mobile network equipment in those areas as a way to reduce the company's MVNO network-usage payments.

But a side effect of that setup allowed industry observers to estimate how many customers Helium Mobile had. That's typically information that's closely guarded by MVNOs and other private companies. By the middle of December, roughly 12,500 Helium Mobile customers had opted to include the company's NFT on their phone.

But Salvador Gala, co-founder of Escape Velocity Ventures, told Light Reading that Helium Mobile recently changed its setup so that, now, all of its subscribers are represented by an "onchain" NFT.

Related:Partner Report - 5G App Monetization Drivers - Understand practical opportunities to monetize real-world 5G applications.

Meaning, there is now a way to precisely track Helium Mobile's customer growth, at least via several sites on a crypto-tracking website called Dune. According to that data, Helium Mobile's customer base sat at around 6,000 at the beginning of December. That total likely reflects the customers in Miami who signed up for the company's $5-per-month unlimited plan launched in the city in August 2023.

After the company introduced its $20-per-month plan nationwide in early December, Helium Mobile's customer base started growing significantly. By the end of December the company had about 24,000 customers. The total jumped again early this week, to just above 30,000 customers.

Helium Mobile requires customers to bring their own phone to the service, and customers' data speeds may be slowed after they consume 30GB in a month. T-Mobile is Helium Mobile's MVNO network provider.

The network and the rewards

Publicly available customer numbers aren't the only thing that makes Helium Mobile unique. The company is pioneering an innovative decentralized wireless (DeWi) business model. Those who deploy and operate Helium Mobile hotspots, whether via Wi-Fi or cellular operations in the 3.5GHz CBRS spectrum band, can be rewarded with cryptocurrency.

The model aims to shift the costs of building wireless networks from the network operator to, well, just about anyone willing to make an investment into the necessary equipment. Several other companies – Really, World Mobile, Xnet, Karrier One and others – are in the early stages of developing similar models that promise rewards of cryptocurrency or, in some cases, cash.

Helium Mobile transmission sites range from $250 for indoor units to $500 for outdoor units.

According to its website, Helium Mobile had about 6,400 transmission gateway sites around the country, including some in Miami hotspots like Miami Beach, in August 2023. That figure sat at around 6,100 this week.

Helium has already tested out this DeWi networking model with its LoRa Internet of things (IoT) network running in the unlicensed 915MHz spectrum band in the US. As reported by Light Reading, Helium counted 1,201 IoT transmission sites toward the end of 2019. Today that figure sits at around 378,000, having dropped from almost a million at the height of the cryptocurrency craze at the beginning of 2023.

Another metric that can be used to track Helium Mobile's progress is through its dedicated cryptocurrency, $MOBILE. That's the mechanism that Helium Mobile uses to reward customers for sharing their location, and to reward Helium Mobile equipment operators for running transmission sites. According to one count, the value of a $MOBILE unit jumped in December after Helium Mobile's nationwide launch to around $0.0074784. It's now valued at about $0.003355.

Bitcoin, one of the most popular types of cryptocurrency, today sits at around $44,055 per unit.

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like