The Update of Light Hotspots Explained

 


LIGHT HOTSPOT HISTORY

Why are Light Hotspots needed?
Since the Helium Network first launched 3 years ago, Hotspots have been storing a copy of the Helium blockchain. This is in addition to all of the other important work Hotspots do, including participating in Proof-of-Coverage work (see below for a refresher on Proof-of-Coverage).

As the Network has rapidly grown to over 722K+ Hotspots deployed, Hotspots have experienced a number of issues trying to keep up, including constantly syncing and storing the blockchain data on the device. To solve this, the Helium Network introduced Light Hotspots — a software update that removes the need for all Hotspots on the Network to store blockchain data. With this update, Hotspots on the Network will run more smoothly and efficiently.

Who stores the blockchain if not Hotspots?
Validators store the blockchain.

In preparation for Light Hotspots, Validators were introduced almost a year ago to take over much of the heavy computational and storage work related to the blockchain.

Is a Light Hotspot a new piece of hardware I need to get?
Light Hotspots is a term used for a free software update. When activated, all Helium-compatible Hotspots will become Light Hotspots, with no action or additional hardware required on your part. The best part? Once activated, Hotspots will (over time) use a fraction of the data that they use today, so gone will be the days of Hotspot syncing issues and relayed statuses.


ACTIVATION DETAILS

Activation Details

When will Light Hotspots be activated?
Light Hotspots are scheduled to be activated on May 11. For more technical details on key dates, see below.

As a Hotspot owner, what do I need to do?
As long as your Hotspot is plugged into the internet, nothing! Hotspot manufacturers will push the updated software to your Hotspot and it will automatically update.


CHANGES TO HNT EARNING 

Any impact on my HNT earnings?
May bring a Hotspot back to life
    • If your Hotspot was relayed or experienced syncing issues, the Light Hotspot software upgrade may bring your Hotspot back to life and allow it to mine HNT.
Rewards will change due to Challenger Updates
    • Light Hotspots will still send beacons, witness beacons, and transfer data, just like it does today. The only rewarded activity that Light Hotspots will no longer perform is Challenging Beaconers, which constitutes 0.9% of HNT emitted per epoch.
 Hotspots will mine more reliably

    • Since a fixed amount of HNT is allocated to Hotspots each epoch, the average earnings per Hotspot are anticipated to decrease due to more Hotspots being online and mining, as well as many new Hotspots being onboarded each day. However, earnings are expected to be much more stable and consistent.
As a reminder: Hotspot earnings depend on your Antenna position and what beacons your Hotspot can witness. It’s best to look at Hotspot earnings over a longer period of time.

 
What about Proof-of-Coverage? Do Light Hotspots do the same work as current Hotspots?

Light Hotspots do one less thing than current Hotspots, namely creating Challenges, with the work being moved to Validators.

Hotspots are still integral to Proof-of-Coverage, performing the work of sending and witnessing Beacons and making up the majority of Proof-of-Coverage rewards per epoch.

Need a refresher on Proof-of-Coverage? They got you
Proof-of-Coverage has three components:
    • Challenger
The Challenger creates a challenge that targets a geographic area. They are responsible for constructing the challenge for the Beaconer and await receipts. This actor role earns 0.9% of HNT emitted per epoch.
    • Beaconer
The beaconer is a Hotspot targeted by a Challenger. Their sole job is to acknowledge the challenge, emit the challenge to its surroundings, and send a receipt back to the Challenger. This actor role earns 5.02% of HNT emitted per epoch. 
    •  Witness
A Witness is a Hotspot that sees a challenge emitted from a Beaconer. They conform to the network that they saw the Beaconer emit a challenge, and are providing coverage. The Witnessing Hotspot sends a receipt back to the Challenger. This actor role earns 20.08% of HNT emitted per epoch.

 

What types of mining rewards can a Hotspot expect to earn?
  • A Hotspot running Light Hotspot software can earn HNT for Proof-of-Coverage work (including Witnessing Challenges and Beaconing) as well as transferring Data Packets.
  • This equals up to 60.1% of total HNT minted per epoch with the remainder allocated to security tokens, consensus group work, and creating Challenges.

What types of mining rewards can a Validator expect to earn?
A properly updated Validator can expect to earn HNT for participating in Consensus and creating Challenges for Hotspots. This equates to 6.9% of total HNT minted per epoch.

Can Lonewolf Hotspots still mine HNT when Light Hotspots are activated?
Lonewolves are Hotspots without other Hotspots nearby to witness Beacons. The only way they mined HNT was by creating Challenges (0.9% of HNT minted). 

Now that Validators create challenges, the only way they can mine is by transferring data packets.

They suggest encouraging your friends and neighbors to help expand your local network.


OWNING A LIGHT HOTSPOT

I’m still waiting for my Hotspot to ship. Will it work with Light Hotspots?
Yes, if you are awaiting a Hotspot, it will download the Light Hotspot software upgrade automatically when it’s plugged in and connected to the internet.

Will there be seed node issues still?
No. Pre-Light Hotspots, seed nodes were used as a “phone book” for Hotspots to know who to call, as part of the peer-to-peer network. In the new world, Hotspots connect directly to a Validator, so there will be no need for seed nodes.

This also means there will be less variance on witness receipts, and PoC rewards will be more reliable and consistent.

Do I have to worry about Relayed Hotspots?
Not anymore. Light Hotspots do not communicate with each over the peer-to-peer network, so there is zero concern for relay (it will no longer exist).

Will there be cheaper Hotspots?
The Light Hotspot software requires less computing power than ever before. In theory, this means future Hotspot manufacturers can take advantage of this lower requirement to produce less expensive Hotspots.  It is up to each individual manufacturer to price their Hotspot when it’s available for sale.

Do I still need to forward port 44158?
No. Light Hotspots only initiate outbound connections to Validators, and consumer routers allow all outbound connections by default. As such, Light Hotspots only need to be connected to the Internet without any further configuration! No ports (including 22/443/1680) need to be opened or forwarded.
 
Will Light Hotspots consume less bandwidth?
Yes. Because Light Hotspots no longer need to sync and keep up with a copy of the blockchain, they will consume much less bandwidth than before. How much is still unknown and will depend on what updates your manufacturer sends to the Hotspot.


GETTING THE LIGHT HOTSPOT SOFTWARE UPDATE

How many manufacturers have tested on Testnet?
All approved manufacturers have Hotspots on Testnet.

What happens if my Hotspot manufacturer doesn’t push the Light Hotspot Software upgrade to me by May 11?
Unfortunately, it means your Hotspot will not participate in Proof-of-Coverage since it won’t be able to receive challenges.
In order for your Hotspot to mine, your manufacturer will need to send the Light Hotspot software update before May 11.

Can the MOC do something if manufacturers don’t push the Light Hotspot software upgrade?
No, the Manufacturing Oversight Committee looks at the security implications of Hotspots on the Helium Network, not whether or not a manufacturer issues a software update.

What if something unexpected happens after activation on May 11?
The core developers have safeguards in place to revert the chaining variable back to Hotspots syncing the chain and creating challenges. They hope this won’t be necessary.  The team also tested a revert on Testnet on March 31 to test our safeguard, and it went well.

I’m a Maker — what do I need to do before May 11?
After they merge Light Hotspot code to mainnet, they will be tagging a new docker image. This will be announced. Makers should test this image and make sure Hotspots are still functioning (i.e. can witness, create challenges, transfer data, stay synced) and deploy the tagged image to their fleet.  Your fleet should have the update before May 11.

I’m a Maker — What if my fleet isn’t updated by May 11?
If Hotspots under your control are not updated by May 11 with the new Light Hotspot software code, then the Hotspot will no longer mine HNT and there will be upset customers.

I’m a Maker manufacturing lower-compute Hotspot Hardware — When can I start testing?
They’ll be ready for you when gateway-rs can perform Proof-of-Coverage on its own. This will be at a minimum, several weeks after May 11. Check out the last date in the Important Engineering Dates section below.


IMPACT FOR VALIDATORS

I’m a Validator — What do I need to do before May 11?
There will be a mandatory upgrade for Validators after the Light Hotspot code merges to mainnet on April 13. You will be notified of the version number as soon as that’s available.

I’m a Validator — What if I don’t update by May 11?
If your Validator is not updated and Light Hotspot is activated, your Validator will halt. You will no longer mine HNT.


IMPORTANT ENGINEERING DATE

All of the code, including the software update, has gone through Testnet testing. Light Hotspot code was merged to mainnet on April 13, in an inactive state. This code allows Hotspots to function both as a chain-following Hotspot and has a non-chain following (aka Light Hotspot) component in an inactive state. More technically speaking, it has both an Erlang-based miner, and a gateway-rs (Rust-based) miner. Erlang is active, Rust is inactive.

On May 11, they will activate the chain variables that “wakes up” the Rust-based miner. This will switch off the Erlang-based miner. At this point, Hotspots will not follow the chain but still has Erlang code, in case they need to fall back to it.

Note: It is important as a Hotspot owner, not to change any port forwarding or firewall settings just yet.

Once the network is stable, and they see Validators and Hotspots working in concert, a final software update will be available for Hotspots to remove the Erlang code completely, leaving behind only the Rust-based miner, which is the Light Hotspot software.

At this point, the Light Hotspot software can be run on Hotspots with less powerful (and possibly less expensive) compute components. This means that any Hotspot manufacturer can look to produce Hotspots with lower CPU, RAM, and storage requirements.





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