Data Credits (DCs) are the mechanism by which all Helium network usage is paid for. This token is redeemable for data transfer on both the IoT and Mobile subnetworks. Furthermore, certain actions like onboarding a Hotspot are paid for using DC.
For further reading on DC's place in the overall mechanics of the Helium network, refer to burn and mint economics in the HNT token documentation.
Data Credit Usage
DCs are used first and foremost as the payment of data transfer on the Helium IoT and Mobile networks. Unlike traditional wireless networks, the Helium network has no annual fee, and users only pay for data used. In the original design of the protocol, it was recognized that users of the network would not be comfortable with the volatility that comes with typical token economics. Therefore, DCs were designed such that all data transfer is pinned to USD, making it predictable. One Data Credit equals $0.00001 USD.
DCs are also used for specific functions on the Helium subnetworks, such as onboarding or asserting the locations of Hotspots. See the IoT and Mobile usage sections below for more details. DCs are not transferable once created. When being used for network transfer, they can be delegated to be used for data transfer accounting. Once DCs have been delegated, they cannot be redelegated.
Acquiring Data Credits
At a network level, DCs are only generated through the conversion of HNT. However, several tools exist to simplify the process for network users.
For individuals or organizations with HNT holdings and familiarity with using cryptocurrencies in business operations, converting HNT to DCs via the on-chain Helium programs provides a straightforward method for acquiring DCs.
Sphere Data Credit Portal
The Data Credit Portal built by Sphere allows network users to acquire DCs using a credit card. The tool is designed for allocating DCs for network users like LNS operators or mobile service providers. The tool provides a clear invoice once transactions are complete to simplify accounting.
Data Credits and IoT
On the Helium IoT network, the primary utility of DCs is for network data transfer. Data transfer is billed in 24-byte increments, per message. Data transfer is only billed if the message is delivered through the Helium network.
Network users also have the choice to purchase multiple reports of the same packet. These additional reports each account for their own cost. For instance, if three 24-byte copies are returned for a given message, the cost would be 3 DC.
Message Payload Size
|0-24 bytes||25-48 bytes||... 241 bytes|
|1 DC||2 DC||... 11 DC|
Data Transfer Calculator
Use this calculator to estimate deployment costs based on the number of devices and how often they send data.
This calculator assumes a 24-byte message size which is typical of most deployments.
|Per Day||Per Month||Per Year|
In addition to network data transfer, DCs are also utilized for certain network-related fees.
|Assert Location||$5(1, 2)|
Data Credits and Mobile
In much the same design as the IoT network, the cellular network leverages DCs as the sole mechanism of billing and fee management. However, as a separate protocol, different pricing mechanics apply. While the IoT network charges data at a rate of $0.00001 per 24-byte message, the Mobile network charges data at a rate of $0.50 per 1 gigabyte (50,000 DC).
On cellular networks, it is customary that network operators bill for bulk data rather than for individual packets. By setting the data cost to $0.50 per gigabyte, the Helium Mobile network positions itself competitively in the marketplace while preserving valuable rewards for the mobile Hotspot operator.
Fees related to onboarding and location assert were defined through community governance through HIP-89.