So you’ve got your Helium Hotspot up and cranking and you’re all proud of your new deployment. Well done you!
As you cruise around Explorer to see how much better your deployment is than everyone else’s, you notice a neighbor who’s earning more. What’s the deal? Are they cheating? Do they have a magic antenna? How are they DOING that? Why aren’t YOU the one earning the most?
Let’s walk through what matters the most with Helium Hotspots, why others might be earning more than you, and how you can *potentially* increase your earnings. I’ll give it to you straight up front: You may not be able to figure it out, but if you carefully go through what I suggest in this post, you’ll be much more likely to understand what’s going on.
First, the single most important aspect of a hotspot’s earnings is its location relative to other hotspots. It’s not the antenna. It’s not the cables. It’s almost never cheating. It’s location. Even 100 meters can make an enormous difference. It’s not that the others totally don’t matter, it’s just that location matters so much.
A hotspot will earn the most if it can Witness (has a clear Line of Sight to) many other high transmit reward scale (.8 or better) hotspots. This system of rewards is called Proof of Coverage, or PoC. It’s important you understand Proof of Coverage and the earnings breakdown, as it’s fundamental to why you earn more (or less) than your neighbors.
Out of all the Helium distributed per epoch (every 30 minutes or so), your Hotspot gets rewarded for 3 possible events:
- Creating a Challenge
- Beaconing that Challenge (being the “Challengee)
- Witnessing that Challenge
I’ve covered how that works in a separate post, here.
For now, let’s separate the PoC (Proof of Coverage) piece from the other HNT distributed to investors, the Consensus Group (aka Validators) and Data Transfer, and take a look at just PoC as a pie chart:
In case you need numbers, in terms of available HNT for an earning event (NOT all HNT distributed per epoch) that’s:
- 4% for the Challenge
- 19% for the Beacon
- 77% for the Witness.
This should make it clear that your hotspot’s earnings are most affected by the quality and quantity of your witnesses.
The Witness List: Quality & Quantity
If your and your neighbor’s hotspot have even slight differences in elevation or geography that change the Line of Sight access to other hotspots, that can make a significant difference in the quantity and quality of your witnesses.
Quality and quantity of Witnesses are one of the biggest factors in earnings differences.
You’ll need to carefully compare their list of witnesses to your list of witnesses to see what the differences are. Just looking at a picture of lots of sexy yellow lines radiating out from a hotspot is NOT a careful comparison; get deep into Excel.
Line of Sight: Slight Changes, Big Differences
The other thing to check carefully is the Line of Sight you have as well as the other hotspot. This can be difficult and sometimes downright misleading, as there’s no guarantee a hotspot is *exactly* where they’ve asserted.
For privacy reasons, many hotspot owners assert their location at the nearest intersection of roads. Asserting your hotspot within about 150 meters doesn’t appear to carry any penalty in HNT earnings, though that’s NOT a guarantee.
That means you might think you’re measuring the correct line of sight, even though you’re not. Additionally, there’s no requirement to accurately enter the elevation of a hotspot. The hotspot you’re trying to assess could be 30 stories up a building but reporting as on the ground.
Even if you DO do careful research, you still may not have enough information to accurately assess why a neighbor’s hotspot is earning more than yours.
Antenna Choice (The Dark Side of High Gain)
What’s another factor in earnings? Well, it’ll date this article a bit (this is good as long as PoCv10 applies), but under the PoCv10 rules, which I’ve written about here, if your antenna OR that of your witnesses is much higher than the Helium RSSI/SNR guidelines, that can invalidate your witness earnings, and witness earnings are what contribute the most.
Especially if you and many of your witnesses have higher gain antennas (anything above, say, 4 dBi), those gains add up, and can push you over the wrong side of the curve.
If you’re on the wrong (invalid) side of the RSSI/SNR curve, you don’t earn HNT. This is yet another reason to use the lowest dBi antenna possible; you’ve GOT to stay on the right (actually, left) side of that line.
Unlike the first factor, this doesn’t have much to do with the quality and quantity of your witnesses, it’s more to do with the strength and clarity of your radio signal.
So there it is: The most likely factors for a difference in earnings between you and your higher-earning neighbor are usually explainable, even if you don’t like the explanation.
How to Win
I’ll close out with some advice: Comparison is the thief of joy. If you get too wrapped around the axle trying to “beat” other hotspots, you’ll miss a lot of the joy that goes into doing the best job YOU can do, given the constraints YOU have. Hotspots that follow the guidelines for providing WUPU coverage will consistently earn the most. That’s the key. Contribute unique and useful value to the network and you’ll be rewarded.
Best of luck with it all, I’m stoked to grow the network with you! If you need help with increasing your HNT flow and you’re willing to have an open mind and work hard, I provide consulting for Helium Hotspot Optimization.