Light Hotspots - Beta

This document describes the architecture and technical roadmap planned for Light Hotspots.


Everything here is very much beta and subject to change.


For real-time development and community support of Light Hotspots, please join the #gateway channel on Helium Discord

Light Hotspot Setup Guides

What is a Light Hotspot?

Light Hotspots are the evolution of how physical LoRaWAN gateways will interact with the Helium blockchain. Since the genesis block, the Helium blockchain has run entirely on the physical Hotspot itself. This is no small feat, especially considering it's now running on tens of thousands of globally-distributed Hotspots. But in the interest of greater scalability and security, the Helium blockchain needs to be moved off of the physical Hotspots and onto more robust cloud-based servers (called Validators, being developed in parallel). This will simplify the architecture immensely, an enable us to grow the Network exponentially while keeping blocktimes and epochs stable. And, over time, it will enable just about any LoRaWAN gateway to join the Helium Network, provide coverage, and mine HNT.

Light Hotspot Properties

When Light Hotspots are fully developed and in production (which will happen with the completion of Milestone 4 detailed below) they will satisfy the following properties:

  • A Hotspot on the Helium network that, via Validators, can participate in PoC beacons and witnesses, and forwards data packets;
  • Does not store a copy of the Blockchain;
  • Does not create challenges (instead relies on Validators to create challenges on their behalf);
  • Does not participate in Consensus Groups (again, relies on Validators for block production);
  • Will be eligible to earn $HNT for all packet forwarding and all POC-related mining rewards except for the Consensus Group rewards (which will only be mined by Validators).


This image shows the progression to Light Hotspots, with the role of Miner being deprecated as we move the blockchain off the Hotspots and into the Validator infrastructure. At the conclusion of Milestone 4, the entire Helium blockchain, and the coordination of Proof of Coverage, will be handled by Validators.

Code and Development

The bulk of the code that enables Light Hotspots on actual LoRaWAN gateways is called gateway-rs. It's easiest to think of this as Helium's next-generation packet forwarder.

Development of this code takes place in the above GitHub repo, as well at the #gateway channel on the Helium Discord Server.

Development Milestones

The development of Light Hotspots will be broken up into the five following milestones.

Milestone 1

Free Packet Forwarding

  • Target Completion Date: March 18
  • Status: COMPLETE

At the completion of Milestone 1, any LoRaWAN gateways running gateway-rs can route packets to and from the Helium Network but not earn HNT. This means an DIY gateway can send and receive data on the Network.

Milestone 1.5

Add Light Hotspot to Blockchain

  • Target Completion: Mid-April

When Milestone 1.5 is done, Light Hotspots that will not participate in Proof of Coverage can be formally added to blockchain by anyone and be seen on the Helium Coverage Map. These Light Hotspots will be required to pay $20 transaction fee to join the blockchain, and $10 assert location fee. (Full Hotspots pay $40 and $10 for add assert, respectively.)

At this phase, Light Hotspots will be onboarded using the Helium Wallet CLI, and will not earn any HNT. Note: Once upgraded, these Light Hotspots will only earn HNT for transferring packets. They will not be eligible for Proof of Coverage mining rewards.

Milestone 2

  • Target Completion: May/June

All Light Hotspots will be able to earn HNT for packet forwarding.

Milestone 3

Earn HNT for POC

  • Target Completion: Post Milestone 2

At this point, Light Hotspots from HIP19-approved manufacturers will be able to earn HNT for POC. (Kerlink is the first approved maker to submit a light hotspot design.) And onboarding for these Light Hotspots will be done via the standard Helium Wallet app onboarding. The fees will be equivalent to Full Hotspots ($40 and $10 for add assert, respectively).

This milesone is dependent on Validators being fully live on mainnet with the ability to generate challenges and process witness receipts

Milestone 4

All Hotspots Operate as Light Hotspots

  • Target Completion: Post Milestone 3

In the final milestone, all existing Hotspots on the Network will be converted to run gateway-rs and will be dependent on Validators to generate challenges and process witness receipts.