Helium Mobile is supposed to eventually be a new breed of DeWi (decentralized wireless) mobile service provider slated to rely primarily on Helium’s DeWi network supplemented with a traditional MVNO agreement.
Theoretically, anyone can deploy Helium network compatible hotspot equipment though the upfront equipment cost is not cheap. Those who deploy hotspots are paid in crypto currency.
Helium Mobile is in beta. As of now, the beta is strictly traditional MVNO service on T-Mobile’s network. The beta offer is unlimited talk, text and cell data for $25.month guaranteed for “life”.
The calculators seem to predict a hotspot revenue of ~$12/year in my area at current Helium crypto value. That would just about cover the electricity costs for keeping the hotspot plugged in. Their own description of the service is a mishmash of buzzwords. I’ll pass, but I see that they do have Dish onboard as a partner.
Helium currently uses a bit of a kludge that requires a dual SIM via eSIM capable phone. Cell data is on eSIM. Talk & text on Helium require an optional physical SIM. Dual SIM via eSIM capable phones allow for multiple SIMs (physical and/or eSIM) to be simultaneously active. So, I’m simultaneously using the Helium eSIM for data with a resident Mobi physical SIM providing talk & text on a Google Pixel 6a.
Pricing is $5/month whether one uses the optional physical SIM for talk & text or not. Helium’s betting on DeWi (decentralized wireless) to reduce dependence on cell data much as Republic once used proprietary technology to offload to WiFi.
Helium’s bet on its DeWi “people’s” network notwithstanding, I don’t necessarily see Helium’s current pricing as being sustainable but I’ll take $5/month for up to 30 GB of high speed cell data for as long as it lasts. The reality is I don’t generally need anywhere near 30 GB of cell data per month. But; I do live in hurricane prone Florida and $5/month is cheap insurance.
Once again; a tip of my virtual hat to @davenc for kindly providing the invite!
My two interactions with Helium support has been positive. Customer support is via chat and both times I was able to reach an agent quickly after a brief quiz by the chatbot. The first inquiry was a general question about referrals. The second time I needed them to assist with the transfer of the data eSim to a new phone. There’s not a self service option to move the eSim but support had me setup on my new phone in a few minutes.