Light Hotspots Simplified
How this major Network milestone improves reliability & uptime for hosts and users
tl;dr: Light Hotspots are a game-changer for Network reliability, uptime, and scalability. They provide significant benefits for both hosts and users.
Today, Hotspots have the task of storing a copy of the entire blockchain, which can result in them falling behind the chain. This means that Hotspots can miss out on Proof of Coverage or Data Transfer rewards, as well as encounter relay issues which cause data transfer to be lost. This in turn can make the Network unreliable for users.
This is where light Hotspots come in; they are a huge change to the architecture of the Helium Network, improving scalability and uptime.
Hotspots will continue to be a key part of PoC, and they will be sending witness beacons that make up the majority of the PoC rewards.
Biggest wins from Light Hotspots
Let’s talk about three key improvements that Light Hotspots will bring and how each one will dramatically improve reliability and uptime for applications on top of the Helium Network:
1. Eliminate Syncing
All Hotspots currently have the task of synchronizing with the blockchain and keeping the entire ledger. With the rapid growth of the Network (+780k Hotspots!), this has become an increasingly difficult task for the Hotspots and can result in synchronization issues.
The move to Light Hotspots means that there will no longer be a need to sync and keep the blockchain up to date at all times. The Hotspot will work right out of the box: quick-to-install and no more syncing issues. This also means that Hotspot owners will see more consistent and predictable earnings on the Network.
2. Eliminate Relay
The “Relayed” state has been a way for Hotspots to stay in communication with the network when their connection was blocked by the security mechanisms built into most consumer-grade internet routers. Hotspots worked around this constraint by establishing a ‘relay’ which essentially meant funneling their traffic through another Hotspot on the network. Without a relay, Hotspots would simply fail to connect with the broader network.
Once a relay was established, problem solved — right? Well, not really. The Hotspot that yours chose to funnel its traffic through was likely handling traffic for a few other Hotspots as well. These other Hotspots might even be across the globe or connected through spotty WiFi, leading to slower sync times, missed challenges, and general unpredictability for the operation of miners on the network.
Since Light Hotspots communicate with Validators directly, they will no longer need to leverage the relayed connection in order to stay connected to other Miners.
3. Lower Internet Bandwidth Usage
Light Hotspots not having to deal with keeping the entire blockchain will free up internet bandwidth previously used for this task. As a result, Light Hotspots will consume much less bandwidth than today’s Full Hotspots.
How does it work?
In short, Hotspots will no longer carry the burden of storing the full blockchain. Instead, this job is now on the Validators, who will be responsible for the heavy computation and storage work, while Hotspots will be optimized for specific tasks. This new architecture allows scaling the rapidly-growing Network by offloading Full Hotspot responsibilities to the new stakeholders.
The introduction of Light Hotspots is not just a fix for PoC rewards; it is one of the most significant milestones for the Network with immense benefits, including no sync issues, less downtime, and more dependable online coverage. It paves the way for significantly more commercial device use.
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This is a very exciting time, as we continue to scale the world’s largest decentralized wireless network.
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