Hotspot Hosts and other Helium Network participants have many questions about expected mining rewards. This is for good reason. Earning
HNT is one of the most exciting pieces of the Helium Network.
While there's no exact formula for for calculating how much
HNT you'll earn over a given period, there are some higher level concepts, design elements, and rules to keep in mind that will help better explain what you might earn and why. This section covers these, as well as some mining and token reward basics.
The Helium blockchain rewards Hotspots for providing wireless coverage and verifying the Helium Network. Hotspots are rewarded in Helium Token (
Every epoch, the current consensus group mines 30 blocks on the blockchain. In each block, Hotspots perform various types of work and are awarded according to the following distribution:
Rewarded to any Hotspot that creates a valid PoC challenge and submits the corresponding receipt to the blockchain.
Awarded to any Hotspot that completes a stage of a PoC challenge.
Distributed to all Hotspots that witness a packet as part of a PoC Challenge.
Divided equally among the Hotspots that are part of outgoing Concesus Group, responsible for mining blocks.
Awarded to Helium, Inc and other Network investors who hold Security Tokens.
Network Data Transfer
Distributed each epoch to Hotspots that route LongFi sensor data for sensors on the Network during that epoch.
The target production rate for new
HNT minted per month is
5,000,000. This means that, if the blockchain performs as designed, it will produce
5,000,000 HNT per month. This target rate is based on the following two targets, as defined in their specific chain variables:
Target block time is
Target epoch size is
So, if we achieve our target block time of
60 seconds, and target epoch of
30 blocks, the blockchain will produce
5MM HNT per month. Per epoch, this equals roughly
3424.66 HNT. The math for this is as follows:
(43800 minutes per month / 30 minutes per epoch) = 1460 epochs per month
(5000000 tokens minted per month / 1460 epochs per month) = 3424.65753424658 HNT per epoch
As calculated above, the target
HNT per epoch is approximately
3424.66. The next logical question is "Where does all this HNT go?" Let's take a look.
Below are the mining rewards per epoch. For every complete epoch (marked by the election of a new Consensus Group), all the
HNT produced get distributed over the following reward types:
HNT Earned by Reward Type
Network Data Transfer
Using the above rewards schedule, we can calculate some example distributions for a given epoch.
Hotspots Earning Reward
HNT Earned Per Hotspot
Total Earned by Reward Type
128 (unique instances)
409 (unique instances)
Network Data Transfer
As shown above, the
Network Data Transfer __reward type earns
30% of the HNT mined per epoch. The calculation for this warrants some explanation. At a high level, every Hotspot that routes data in a given epoch will earn some part of the roughly
1027.398HNT that is allocated to this reward type.
Hotspots earn HNT based on how much data they route, and specifically how many Data Credits are burned in their name, at a rate that equals their percentage share of the total amount of Data Credits spent on Network Data Transfer during that epoch. The simple calculation for finding the amount of HNT awarded to any given Hotspot for Network Data Transfer is:
X = (
Hotspot HNT earnings from Network Data Transfer
Total DCs routed by Hotspot
Total DCs spent during Epoch on Network Data Transfer
Total HNT allocated for Network Data per Epoch (approximately 1027.398HNT)
Let's assume that, during a given epoch, a total of 500,000 Data Credits were spent on routing sensor data.
Only three Hotspots -
Wobbly Blue Cougar,
Steep Fern Trout, and
Damp Peanut Hippo - were collectively responsible for routing all the sensor data packets for the blockchain accounts that spent the 500,000 DCs to send and receive this data.
Across those 500,000 DCs let's assume the following:
Wobbly Blue Cougar was responsible for 300,000 DCs;
Steep Fern Trout routed 150,000 DCs worth of data;
Damp Peanut Hippo handled 50,000 DCs of network data transfer.
With these assumptions in mind, here's how the entire
30% of HNT reward during this epoch for Network Data Transfer would be distributed:
% of whole during epoch
Wobbly Blue Cougar
Steep Fern Trout
Damp Peanut Hippo
Additional Notes on Reward Types and Payouts:
All Hotspots in the
Consensus group will earn an equal rewards.
All Hotspots participating in PoC, including
Witnesses will earn rewards proportional to how many events they participated in out of the total number of events per epoch.
All Hotspots participating in
Network Data Transfer will earn rewards proportional to their share of the total data transfer in that epoch, as shown above.
Hotspots can earn one or more reward types during any given epoch.
Hotspots are only eligible to submit one Proof of Coverage Challenge - which results in them earning the
PoC Challenger reward - once per two epochs.
PoC Challengee, and
Witness reward types get distributed in the epoch that includes the corresponding PoC receipt.
A Hotspot can earn more than one
PoC Challengee and
Witness rewards per epoch.
The Helium Network is still new and growing quickly, so there are bugs to be squashed and optimizations to be made. Target block and epoch times can be difficult to attain consistently. To account for this, the Helium blockchain uses something called
proration to ensure that the target of
5,000,000 is achieved even if block and epoch times aren't on target.
Occasionally, due to the rapid growth of the network, there can be less-than-optimal block times. This results in slower epochs. When this happens the Network will produce less HNT over the same period of time. This may seem counterintuitive. Shouldn't the blockchain produce more HNT when block times are slower to ensure the 5MM per month target is hit? No. Again, think blocks, not clocks. Here's a step-by-step example to make it clearer:
Let's assume for a given
60 minute period, the average block time was
120 seconds (instead of the target
This would mark
30 blocks over the
60 minute period, conclude an epoch, and result in HNT rewards being distributed.
As with any epoch, we would distribute the target of (approximately)
However, since this epoch took twice as long as normal (
60 minutes versus
30 minutes) the blockchain essentially distributes HNT at half the normal rate.
The most important take away here is that, when block times slow and HNT production is reduced, everyone participating in the Network - Witnesses, Challengers, Helium, Investors, etc. - is impacted equally (with the exception of Consensus Group members; more on this below). So, although it's annoying that the effective rate of HNT may have dropped over a given period of time, know that you're not the only one earning less. And this is by design.
The only group that doesn't see its HNT reduced per epoch when blocks are slow is the Consensus Group. Currently there are 16 members of each Consensus Group, sharing 6% of the HNT produced per epoch - or approximately
This amount stays fixed while every other category of HNT payout is prorated so that members of the Consensus Group are incentivized to keep elections fast. Otherwise, a malicious Consensus Group member might be inclined to prolong elections. This could be done, for example, to prevent a subsequent election, thus ensuring current membership in the Consensus Group stays intact. By distributing a fixed amount of HNT per
30 block epoch (as opposed to prorating payouts), we remove the incentive to disrupt elections.
In order to optimize your HNT earnings, there are a few things we recommend:
Deploy Sensors as 30% of all HNT goes to Hotspots that route actual sensor data.
Ensuring you aren't the only Hotspot in your area is the method most likely to increase your earnings. If you are in an area with three or more Hotspots you are likely to participate as a
PoC Challengee and
Witness more PoC challenges that are happening around you. These are the two highest
HNT distributions for Proof of Coverage per epoch, so optimizing around them has a high impact.
Upgrading to a larger antenna will help in situations where you have other Hotspots nearby but either fail challenges that you participate in or do not witness challenges that they are participating in. Note: Upgrading to a larger antenna will not help in situations when you are the only Hotspot in the area, as your only HNT earnings will come from issuing challenges which only uses your internet connection. Figuring out which antenna to upgrade to is a complex question, and we recommend joining our Community Discord where plenty of antenna discussion occurs.
Opening internet network ports helps in delivering
PoC Challengee and
Witness receipts to the
PoC Challenger. These receipts are delivered via the internet through a peer-to-peer network, and can be affected by NAT, firewalls, and other networking issues. The most optimal configuration is adding the Hotspot to your network DMZ which allows unfettered access to and from the internet, but not to your local network. Alternatively, manually opening port
44158 to the Hotspot will help, and enabling
uPNP on your network router is a good fallback.