Today, FreedomFi announced that Baicells Technologies will certify its lineup of cellular base stations to work with the FreedomFi Gateway. The first device will be the outdoor Baicells Nova 430i, which will become available for purchase through CalChip Connect on April 1.
FreedomFi is a startup that aims to deliver a distributed wireless network over CBRS spectrum. This distributed network can be used to offload cellular data for national telecom carriers.
FreedomFi has partnered with Dish on this distributed wireless network experiment. The collaboration isn’t related to Dish’s build-out of its greenfield 5G network. But the distributed network with FreedomFi could someday help Dish customers to deploy their own 5G hotspots to strengthen Dish’s overall network. In return, the people who deploy the hotspots would get compensated.
The base station that Baicells will be providing to FreedomFi combines a small cell radio with an antenna. And the base station is plug-and-play compatible with the FreedomFi Gateway, which is similar to a router.
Boris Renski, founder of FreedomFi, said the Baicells base station costs $2,499, and the FreedomFi Gateway costs $1,000.
In addition to the Baicells arrangement announced today, FreedomFi also offers a white label base station — the FreedomFi One — which is manufactured by Sercomm.
Who buys this equipment?
Renski said there’s hot demand for this equipment. FreedomFi has already sold close to 10,000 of its white-labeled gateways of which roughly 4,000 have been deployed.
“For the most part it’s various individuals and small businesses that own real estate assets that are good for providing wireless coverage,” he said. For example, people who live in dense urban areas and have a window where they can point the radio signal might be good candidates. Or for businesses, it might be coffee shops or other places where it would be nice to boost the wireless signals of the major carriers.
“We sell this equipment to individuals and businesses, and they deploy it and effectivity create this neutral host network,” said Renski. “But we aggregate all this equipment into a single network that can be used by operators like Dish to offload their mobile data traffic.”
The Baicells Nova 430i is an outdoor cellular base station with an integrated sector antenna, operating in the CBRS spectrum band. It is capable of providing secure cellular coverage to CBRS-compatible devices at a range of up to two miles and with downlink speeds of up to 220 Mbps. It can support up to 96 simultaneous cellular device connections.
FreedomFi has also partnered with Helium to allow owners of the gateways and base stations to mine Helium Network Tokens (HNT) as compensation for hosting the equipment. Helium has already established a successful, distributed IoT network around the globe where participants earn HNT from hosting LoRa equipment.