How To Place Your Hotspot On A Commercial Building

Want to get your hotspot up on that tall commercial building, but you’re not sure how to approach the building owner or manager? I’ll walk you through how I do it, including templates and how to talk about Helium with non-crypto enthusiasts. I know, I know. You want to skip forward to right before you tilt up the tower, like this:

Relax, we’ll get there. Let’s go through how that can happen.

First, remember this: Make sure they win. You’re going to win, we both know that. Set that aside and focus on them.

Second, know who you’re dealing with. Is it an owner? A facilities manager? A corporate entity? You’re engaging in business. Do your homework. Be professional.

Third, make sure your agreements are clear and clean. They don’t have to be long 19 page documents detailing every last thing. They do have to be useful for all parties. Get the following in writing: What you’re going to be doing, how much you’re going to pay, and how often you’ll pay out.

Fourth, see number one, above. Think about how this might benefit their business. If you can walk up to the building owner with some way for them to make more money or spend less, you’re 80% of the way to a done deal. Whether they need to track vehicles or people, or weigh inventory, or get temperature alerts, or count how many cars are parked in their lot, there is almost always some way that a LoRa sensor can help out.

You don’t have to have a perfect fit, but if you can show that you care about their business and bottom line, they’ll be a lot more open to your proposal.

Fifth, keep it professional. Don’t plan on setting up something that’ll fall down when it’s windy, or leak when it’s rainy, or fall apart because you used cheap parts. This is a business. Be a professional.

Once you’ve thought about their life and how you can improve it, plan out your first contact with them. Ideally you’ll have someone you both trust in common. It could be a family member or a friend, or it could be a tenant that both you and the building owner trust. If they’re a total stranger, make sure you’ve done your homework on their building (how old is it, how high is it, how many tenants do they have, what’s the average rent in the area, etc). Build up a mental map in your mind about how your placement proposal will benefit them.

Speaking of a proposal, have something written up and ready to hand over. Here’s a short example. The template is here.


LoRa Gateway Proposal – Rooftop Placement

Gristle King Inc (GKI) provides LoRa radio (LOng RAnge) coverage via a small device and antenna installed on a 15’-20’ high mast anchored with a non-penetrating removable roof mount.

A LoRa gateway (Long Range radio and small computer) is used to provide coverage for Internet of Things (IoT) sensors.

IoT can range from remote weighing of ingredients to counting the number of people passing through a doorway to remote sensing of parking spots, temperature and humidity tracking, and more.

Each IoT sensor transmits encrypted information which is received by the gateway, then passed by the gateway to the internet for data processing and visualization. Sensors are typically cheap and long lasting, with life expectancy routinely in years.

A typical gateway installment involves providing a power source and internet connection to the gateway, then customizing a sensor deployment.

In this case, the initial sensors will be scales custom-built to remotely monitor ingredient stock levels.

The gateway provides “permissionless” coverage to anyone who wants to use it, so if other businesses within the coverage area of the gateway want to build or employ their own solutions using LoRa they can do so by buying data credits. Data credits run approximately $5-10/month per sensor.

Gateways typically use about as much power as a light bulb and as much data as a Netflix user.

More on LoRa technology can be found here: https://www.semtech.com/lora

GKI proposes a monthly hosting payment to XXXXXXXX of $XXX/month to use building internet & power. GKI will install the gateway and associated hardware. All installation costs and any damages resulting from the installation to be borne by GKI.


Here are the essentials of a proposal: It should quickly and clearly describe what you’re doing. It should show the businesses owner how they and those around will receive a benefit. It should be low risk for them (no drilling holes in their roof). Finally, it should be boring.

That last one is where most of you stumble. You’re excited about Helium. You want to share how cryptocurrency and the blockchain is changing the world and how much long range coverage you’ll be providing for all these devices (that typically don’t exist yet) and how this is the ground floor, and LET’S DO THIS!

I get it. I’m excited too, but business owners didn’t get to own a building by listening to excited people talk about dreams and the future, and especially about Bitcoin or Doge or….what was this again, Helium?

Trust me. Keep it boring and practical. Point out where they’ll win. Make sure they DO win. If a business owner can rent out 6 sq ft of their roof for $150/month, that’s $25 a square foot. That’s a win.

Ok, now that you’ve presented your proposal and they’ve signed off on it, you’ll have to connect your Helium Hotspot to its lifeblood: Power, and the internet.

You can go off-grid, which is (depending on where you live) about 3 times as expensive as staying on a hardline. The enormous upside of being off grid is you don’t have to convince the building owner to get into their router and open up port 44158, or plug in to their power, or make any holes in their building in order to run cable. All of those can complicate or upset a deal.

Still, off grid is hard, and expensive. If you can show the building owner that you know what you’re doing, that you’ve terminated ethernet cable before and punched through building envelopes, and that opening up that port on their network is something you can do behind your back with a blindfold, they usually put you in the category of “technical geek who can do anything” and they’ll give you the run of the shop. That opens up your grid-connected options.

What I’m saying in a roundabout way is to make sure you learn a little bit of the language of contracting and network installing. Don’t go in there saying you’re going to run “internet cable”. Don’t say, “I think I might have to drill a hole in your roof, let me go buy a drill.” Don’t ask them if you can “get on their WiFi for a sec”.

Know what you’re talking about. Be a professional. Have the right tools to do a good job. Here’s my list of essential Helium deployment tools if you need some guidance.

This brings me to my last point, which is relationships. I know you want a magic piece of paper that you just throw at a building owner and they toss the roof key back at you and say, “Have at it.” That doesn’t happen. Building owners are just like you; they want to turn a profit and they want to work with people they like and trust. The profit part is straightforward. The next part comes from building relationships.

Show up on time. Be professional. Think about their needs before yours. Try and improve their life. Have fun and be joyful when you work. Always look for positive opportunities where all parties win. Always build the relationship.

That’s the kind of person I’d want putting a [whatever it is you want] on top of my building. Wouldn’t you?

Best of luck with your deployments, and if you need help I’m available for hire.

Rock on! ~Nik@GK

25 thoughts on “How To Place Your Hotspot On A Commercial Building”

  1. Great post and helpful! I find it interesting that around where I live and I’m sure in other locations across the world, residents are willing to have hotspots in their homes for really cheap by these “groups” that own 100 + hotspots. This one group charges $10/per month and easily making 300-500 HNT/month of 1.

  2. Am I doing it wrong by offering commercial buildings a stake of the earnings? 😀

    I should be offering less….

  3. There’s not a “wrong” way to do it. If they take a stake in earnings that opens them up to all the tax implications of crypto. If they just pay a flat USD (or local currency fee) they don’t have to deal with any of it. I’d rather keep the load on the pretty light when it comes to paperwork and tax liabilities.

  4. Pete Danylewycz

    Hey Nik,
    Great post! Thanks for sharing. Quick question? In your post, you talk about drilling
    holes and using an ethernet cable. Is that even necessary? You can hook up HNT miners wirelessly using WiFi instead of a direct connection to the router. Is there a reason you recommend or prefer using a hardwire connection?

    Thanks,
    Pete

  5. Hi Pete, you can definitely use a WiFi connection, but I’ve found an ethernet connection far more stable.

  6. Hi Nik, we want to offer an outdoor solution that doesn’t require an ethernet connect should it not be readily available. Can you recommend a 4G LTE modem option that works well with the RAK hotspot?

    Thanks,
    David

  7. Hey Nik,

    As always, thank you for the super knowledgeable post! One quick question I have is:

    Did you use an ethernet surge protector?

    Thanks,
    Dustin

  8. Hey Nik, great post here. May I ask if any hotspot miner can work with lora technology without the HNT data credits because one of your reasons in that post was the future usage of this product.
    Greetings Nick

  9. It’s not so much any hotspot miner as any device that can run the code. I’ve used Raspberry Pi4s with the RAK2287 hat & concentrator. You can build your own that won’t earn credits but will provide coverage following Helium’s instructions, here.

  10. I just received this information from Bobcat today regarding temperatures and reduction of performance at higher temps. I’m currently waiting on my bobcat and had plans to mount the hotspot in my attic to reduce required Coax length. Located in Austin Texas I know attics can get up to 140 degrees if not more. You having put these out in direct sunlight I was wondering your take and experience so far with your outdoor units. Wondering if I need to rethink this. Any contributions you have will be appreciated thank you. Here is the link I received from Bobcat. There is an included study of this phenomenon that’s over my head.
    https://www.bobcatminer.com/post/handle-your-miner-with-care?postId=e78b8003-cfa3-4ca2-a5a9-54d6f620fe8d

  11. Hi Matt, I’ve only deployed RAKs and DIYs outside, they’re doing fine. Not sure about the Bobcat, though it’s got to be the same basic components.

  12. Do you attach guy wire anywhere when utilizing the 15-20ft masts. If so, is it possible to do so without drilling?

  13. Are you connecting these to a building ground? It seems to be an isolated system. What are your thoughts specifically for solar powered (no wires) units that are on rooftops.

  14. Hi Brian, yep, you should be connecting these to a building ground. Solar powered units on rooftops can be an excellent call, it’s mainly a question of economics and maintenance. If the building owner is OK with you tapping into power & internet, usually far cheaper to do that.

  15. Hey Nik, how do you pay your hosts? Crypto and Fiat? Do you use Stripe? Also is the proposal you have on here used as sort of a contract that your hosts sign?

  16. USD or HNT split. I don’t use Stripe. The proposal I use is just a general template; that’s all the one commercial building owner needed to see.

  17. I guess a better way to word my initial question is what do you pay your hosts through? Is it via Venmo, Cash App or do write them checks?

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