Helium Mobile, which earlier this year made waves for both for its cryptocurrency-powered business model and its low $5-a-month plan, has expanded its service across the nation, but isn’t bringing that ultra-low rate along.
The nationwide plan costs $20 a month, and comes with unlimited talk and text message. You get 30 gigabytes of high-speed data, after which the service may get slowed during times of congestion. The service runs on T-Mobile’s network.
Helium stood out because of a unique plan to offer MOBILE cryptocurrency tokens to anyone running a cellular gateway — essentially a mini cell tower — broadcasting unlicensed radio airwaves. It later offered the same deal to anyone running a Wi-Fi hotspot. The idea was that Helium smartphone would ride on these cell towers or Wi-Fi hotspots, decreasing the amount it would have to pay T-Mobile to carry traffic on the wireless carrier’s network. The initial $5 plan launched in Miami, and is still available to customers there, but so far there isn’t word over whether it’ll expand.
Like the Miami launch market, Helium hopes to have a network of crypto-powered hotspots and mini cell towers to help carry the wireless traffic load. But given that this is a nationwide service, the chances of you actually running into one of these areas is far more remote. The mini cell towers, which start at $999, was always going to be a hard sell beyond the most hardcore cryptocurrency follower. As a result, the new plan costs four times the amount.
While Helium presents this as an alternative to the major contract wireless services like Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile, the $20 rate and no-contract terms pits it more against fellow prepaid players like Boost Mobile (owned by DISH Network), Metro (owned by T-Mobile), Mint Mobile (being acquired by T-Mobile) and Visible (owned by Verizon).
Helium offers a competitive plan, with the 30 GB of high-speed data also including a separate 5 GB of tethering. The basic Boost Infinite, Visible and Metro plans start at $25 a month, while Mint has a promotional rate of $15 a month, but includes only 5 GB of data.
Image credit: Helium Mobile