Hotspots are the heart of the Helium Network creating coverage for devices to send data.
It is crucial that these Hotspots communicate their availability and connectedness to the outside world so they can be relied upon to help route packet data from devices.
Types of Status
Online or Offline
A Hotspot, whether it is a Full, Light, or Data-Only all confer on one metric to determine if it's "Online", or available to transfer device packets.
If a Hotspot has had any blockchain activity in the past 36 hours, the network considers the Hotspot "Online".
Blockchain Activity can include:
- added to the network for the first time
- created a challenge
- was a challengee (initiated the Challenge, from a Challenger) in a Proof-of-Coverage event
- was a witness in a Proof-of-Coverage event
- transferred device packets for a device
- received mining rewards
We're able to make these assumptions because only a fully synced and online Hotspot is able to participate in the above activities.
A Hotspot's current block height is gossiped over the peer-to-peer network. As the network has grown, it has taken much longer for this information to be updated and available for users to see on explorer.helium.com. This is why sometimes a block sync status can be take days to update. THe best way to quickly get the exact block height is to run a diagnostic report from the Hotspot or Maker app.
Soon, after the activation of Light Hotspots on the network, a Hotspot's sync status will no longer need to show block height, but rather, display whether it is connected to a Validator, where it is getting all its block information from.
Why is this?
Light Hotspots will not need to store a complete ledger (or blockchain) on the hardware itself, but instead, ask a Validator for recent block information. This simplifies Hotspots and gets rid of SD card issues, syncing, snapshots, and other problems related to slow sync.