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What is the Helium network?

The Helium Network is "a decentralized wireless network, owned and operated by people around the world." One company that manufactures equipment compatible with this network is FreedomFi, which manufactures and sells 5G/LTE hotspots that use the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum.

To connect to a CBRS base station in the United States, mobile devices must support LTE frequency band 48.

IMPORTANT: If your mobile device does not support LTE band 48, you will not be able to connect to the base station.

FreedomFi's FAQ page (here) has the following information explaining their use of the terms 5G and LTE:

Is this 5G or LTE?
This is not a black or white answer. 5G is an architecture standard for cellular wireless networks that covers:

    • Architecture of the software (aka the network core);
    • Architecture of the radio hardware

Contrary to the common belief, 5G is not specific to a frequency band and is not the same as high frequency mmWave. 5G uses much of the same frequencies as LTE.

With the Helium 5G rollout, we use the CBRS spectrum (aka mid-band 5G spectrum) and provide a 5G-compliant architecture for the network core that runs on a FreedomFi 5G Gateway. However, the first cellular radio we certified as part of this bundle is LTE.

Why? Because LTE small cells are cheaper and more phones can connect to them. With pure 5G small cells today you gain nothing except higher equipment cost and a shorter phone compatibility list. As “high-band” 5G small cells operating in the mmWave frequencies become more common-place and cheaper, we will certify those radios and FreedomFi 5G Gateway owners will be able plug them into the gateway without needing to buy a different FreedomFi 5G Gateway.

And, yes, we admit that we call this setup Helium 5G vs. LTE because it sounds cooler. If everybody else in the industry can, so can we.


If you have any further questions, please contact GigSky Support at

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