• Digging deeper into the value of NFTs…
  • “I’m ready to make the switch.”
  • FreedomFi can’t get here fast enough…

Dear Reader,

Welcome to our weekly mailbag edition of The Bleeding Edge. All week, you submitted your questions about the biggest trends in technology.

Today, I’ll do my best to answer them.

If you have a question you’d like answered next week, be sure you submit it right here.

And before we turn to today’s questions, I’d just like to leave one more reminder about the time-sensitive presentation I gave on Wednesday night. As I shared, Apple’s (AAPL) newest launch is unlocking a $12.3 trillion opportunity right now.

If you weren’t able to tune in to learn about how we can profit from Apple’s move – without buying shares of AAPL – then you still have a brief chance to catch up.

You can watch the replay for just a short time longer… but given how quickly this situation could move, please don’t delay.

Simply go right here to watch.

The big deal about NFTs…

Let’s begin with a question on non-fungible tokens (NFTs):

Aren’t NFTs basically comparable to trading commodities? You don’t possess it, you don’t control it, you don’t have a say in its dispensation. Aren’t we just trading “coins?”

– Joseph D.

Hi, Joseph, and thanks for writing in. NFTs have been a popular topic in The Bleeding Edge recently, and I’m happy to dive into this question.

We’ve described NFTs as digital collectibles. They allow us to cryptographically secure and authenticate unique assets or data on a blockchain.

Yet what this looks like is rapidly evolving in creative ways. The only limit seems to be innovators’ imaginations.

As we’ve covered in recent weeks, NFTs can be pieces of art. They can be interactive games. They can include royalty-producing smart contracts. They can give owners special access to their favorite franchise or other fan club benefits. And they can even be status symbols.

And how NFTs work makes them much more than simply “trading coins.”

That’s where the “non-fungible” part of the name comes in. This indicates that something is unique – you can’t simply replace something with something equivalent. We can easily swap one dollar bill with another, and both will retain exactly the same value. They’re fungible after all. But it’s impossible to trade the Mona Lisa for its equivalent.

As an example, if someone creates a piece of art and posts it online, and 5,000 people download it, then thousands of people have it… yet nobody “owns” it.

If the artist turns their art into an NFT, however, it is now verified as original to them. No matter how often someone captures a screenshot of the art, the picture’s authenticity – and the creator’s ownership – can be easily verified on the blockchain and held in the artist’s digital wallet. In that way, there is only one original and one owner.

And as I mentioned above regarding smart contracts, NFTs can be structured to pay their creators royalties every time ownership exchanges hands.

This is a feature that makes a lot of sense to me. As a piece of art increases in value and trades in any auction, the artist will receive a percentage of every sale. In that way, great work is rewarded, and it creates future income for the artist.

And other potential uses for NFTs even tie them to real-world objects. As we mentioned above, someone could gain a “ticket” to attend an exclusive event or receive other physical benefits like fan merchandise by owning an NFT.

Or as I shared recently, Alethea AI just sold an “intelligent” NFT named Alice. She’s been designed with a personality and can answer questions or hold a conversation. We can imagine this sort of NFT serving a number of uses – even earning income on their owner’s behalf by promoting products or enabling business transactions with potential customers.

I’m very excited to continue exploring the NFT trend. And this will certainly be one of the most explosive spaces to invest in going forward.

In 2020, the global NFT market had just under $340 million in transaction volume. This year, we’re already on the cusp of $4 billion. And over the next decade, it could easily grow more than 1,000X.

That’s why I continue to put this trend on investors’ radar. If you’d like to learn how to start investing in NFTs, simply go right here for the details.

Cutting the cord with Google…

Next, a reader wants to know more about privacy-focused search engines:

Hello, I’m an Unlimited member, and I love the service. I really appreciate the frequent communications that we get from you. In the past, you’ve recommended a couple of search engines that are more private than Google. Can you mention their names again? I think I’m ready to make a switch.

– Frank B.


Hi, Frank – thanks for being an Unlimited member and for writing in. Google’s convenience factor has made it difficult for many people to detach themselves from its services. It has burrowed deep into consumers’ lives… while gathering as much data as it can extract from us.

But if we care about privacy, then it’s critical to move away from companies like Google and Facebook. I’m glad to hear you’re interested in switching to an alternative.

The good news is, there are several great options for anyone wanting a search engine outside of Google. First, DuckDuckGo is a search engine that does not track you or capture your data. And I think its search results are pretty much on par with Google’s.

Alternatively, Brave browser is privacy-focused and even pays its users in its own digital currency, the Basic Attention Token (BAT), effectively sharing its advertising revenue with users if they opt in to seeing ads. And this past June, it announced that it’s now testing its own search engine, Brave Search.

Historically, Brave has relied on other companies’ search engine technology. Now it has its own. What’s more, Brave Search is powered by its own internet index. This is critical.

We can think of the index as a massive map of the internet. It tracks how websites and information are linked together. This creates the core knowledge base that the search engine draws on to deliver results.

That’s important because, up to this point, Brave simply shielded users from Google’s data surveillance practices. But it still relied on a third-party index to provide search results.

That means Brave couldn’t bypass Google’s efforts to filter and censor information. That often means that we would not find information that we were looking for, and Google was presenting us only with information it wanted us to see.

Since Brave Search will generate results from its own index, Google will be powerless to engage in these censorship practices now.

Brave Search is currently in beta mode, which means it is working out any kinks, but it’s available at search.brave.com. And with this latest implementation, Brave is now a privacy-focused alternative to Google, and one that has the potential to disrupt the tech giant.

As one other option, we shared in July about Neeva – another company that just launched its own search engine. It won’t serve ads. It won’t collect data. And it won’t store any information on users. It’s focused completely on privacy – just like Brave.

The difference is that Neeva will be a paid product. It will cost $5 per month. That’s the price consumers must pay for a powerful search engine in an ad-free environment. To incentivize consumers to give it a try, Neeva offers the first three months free.

What’s more, Neeva pledges to share 20% of its revenues with the most popular content producers that show up in its search results. This refers to the online news and information sites that consumers find and visit most through Neeva searches.

In this way, Neeva is positioning itself as a company that supports the content creation ecosystem. This is another thing that differentiates Neeva from Google. Google has long been accused of taking advantage of content creators and the news and broadcasting industries.

I’ll be very interested to see if this project succeeds – will consumers be willing to open up their wallets for privacy?

Ultimately, any of these options will help us achieve more privacy when searching online, and I’m excited to see each of them eat away at Google’s market share.

If any readers have tried Neeva – or have any other favorite Google alternatives – I’d love to hear about it at [email protected].

Readers are eager for decentralized 5G…

Let’s conclude with something a little different. This week, I wrote about the startup Helium and its blockchain-powered FreedomFi network offering decentralized 5G.

As a recap, people who host a FreedomFi Gateway will provide wireless network coverage for devices like cell phones operating in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum band. In return, operators are rewarded with the Helium Network Token (HNT) cryptocurrency, which can be exchanged with other cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin) or fiat currencies.

I asked whether readers would be interested in participating in the network by running a small cell and earning HNT, and the floodgates opened in response. Here are just a few of the notes we received…

Definitely looking to buy the hardware ASAP and launch this… Any idea when this will actually be live? Can you buy the hardware and mine now? Do you buy the hardware from Helium or elsewhere? I love this idea. 

– Barrett T.

Hi Jeff, up here in Toronto, we enjoy some of the most expensive service provider fees in the world. Data in Canada is very expensive. This tech would be explosive in a market such as this. Moreover, if everyone chips in, we could have a complete decentralized 5G network with total coverage in higher populated areas. I predict that the future of self-driving vehicles depends on this. 

– Mark D.

Thank you for asking. I would most definitely purchase the longer-range system. Unfortunately, I live in a sparsely populated area in South Dakota. Maybe 100,000 people within 50 miles. I will support any efforts to challenge the monopolies in this area. I will follow the effort with great enthusiasm. Making it work for rural areas can’t come soon enough. 

– Todd S.

My family would definitely participate. I do have one question. Could a $1,500 or $2,000 [device] be taken on vacation in our motorhome or to a second home out of state for “snowbirds?” 

– Marsha L.

I have been involved with Helium since February 2021. They only had 12,000 hotspots at that time. Now over 160,000 hot spots. The problem has been with chip shortages. I ordered six hotspots in February and received them in July 2021. This opportunity will crank out many millionaires. The working class can join, as an opportunity like this will not happen for another 30 years or more. Just my two cents. I’m loving it! Just need to get my hands on more hot spots! 

– Joseph G.

Hi Jeff, I just read about FreedomFi. It sounds intriguing! How does it work exactly? I just purchased an iPhone 13 with Comcast as my carrier. Comcast rents towers from Verizon. If I were to purchase a receiver for my desk, would my phone run off it while I am in range? If I purchase the receiver, do I just set it up and wait for others to do the same? Will each one work independently while forming a network as others set up receivers in my area? Yes, I would do this. I am a Brownstone Unlimited member, and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

– Jay B.

Thank you to everyone who wrote in. It’s amazing to see such an engaged community of Bleeding Edge readers. I’m very excited about everyone’s interest levels in this, and it’s great to see that Joseph is already ahead of the game, contributing to the network.

So let me address some of the questions you all raised…

Barrett, if you’d like to take part in this network, there is some equipment you’ll need. First, you’ll want to order the FreedomFi Gateway, a radio-agnostic LTE/5G network core. And I definitely recommend going here to sign up for the waitlist for Helium 5G-ready miners.

Additionally, you will need to buy a radio that’s certified to operate in the CBRS band. You can use FreedomFi Gateways with LTE/5G radios from any vendor, and the company is currently working with radio manufacturers to certify their products. Keep in mind that more powerful (and expensive) radios will enable owners to mine more HNT rewards.

You’ll also want Magma Orchestrator, which serves as your interface for managing your network, as well as access to spectrum and SIM cards. Many of these items can be purchased through the FreedomFi website or other vendors.

Between the chip shortages that Joseph G. noted above and the high demand, however, we may need to be patient for some of this hardware to become available for order. Currently, there’s a waitlist for the 5G FreedomFi Gateways, but they will begin shipping this month.

For those who are interested in Helium’s existing narrowband IOT network, I can recommend the Bobcat Miner, which can be found here.

Fair warning, the purchase process isn’t the simplest. Miners need to be purchased in a US-dollar stablecoin – USDC. This can be done by opening an account on Coinbase, purchasing USDC, and then sending the USDC to Bobcat.

As for traveling with our network, Marsha, we will need to connect our FreedomFi Gateways to the internet via an Ethernet cable. The wired connection should have at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) downlink and 20 Mbps uplink.

This will limit its usefulness in motorhomes while actively traveling, unless you are able to travel with something like a Starlink from SpaceX. But it shouldn’t pose problems for snowbirds or when we move homes as long as we have internet connectivity where we live.

And by the way, this is how most 4G or 5G networks work today. Most large cell towers are connected to the internet via a fiber connection.

And lastly, Jay – yes, this network can be used for private purposes (e.g., a business can build one for its own employees). If you have a phone that supports 5G, you will be able to connect through your own small cell – or potentially from your neighbors if they join in!

That’s because the network can also be opened up to other FreedomFi customers and partners. This option is where Helium’s incentives come in – it pays you HNT to open up your personal network to be used by others – including mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

The FreedomFi network won’t be open to traffic for everyone with a CBRS-capable phone, however. Each user’s service provider – Verizon, Comcast, etc. – will have to create a roaming arrangement with FreedomFi and Helium. Currently, several unnamed MVNOs plan to support roaming onto the FreedomFi network.

We can expect to hear some of those names and partnerships announced very soon. This is such an exciting project. It’s still early and more details will emerge, but the thought of crowdsourcing a wireless network with built-in economic incentives is fantastic. This is exactly why blockchain technology is so empowering and exciting.

And for Bleeding Edge readers, this is definitely a project that we’ll be staying on top of. And hopefully, a bunch of us can be part of making FreedomFi a reality.

That’s all we have time for this week. If you have a question for a future mailbag, you can send it to me right here.

Have a good weekend.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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