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What is a Helium Miner?

The Solana (SOL) blockchain network has been one of the hottest ecosystems in the cryptocurrency sector, with many native assets seeing significant gains over the past few months. 

Helium (HNT) is one of Solana’s native assets that has done quite well, as at the beginning of December 2023 it was under $3 per HNT, with it now trading at over $7 a unit. One of the best parts of HNT is the ability to earn more of it by setting up a Helium miner. But what is helium mining and is helium mining profitability worth the investment? Let’s jump in.

What is Helium Mining?

The Helium network aims to be a decentralized wireless network capable of providing Internet and wireless connectivity to anyone, anywhere in the world, for a fraction of the price of traditional plans. In order to establish this network, Helium miners are set up by individuals and companies in order to provide coverage. Essentially, you’re setting up hotspots around the globe for anyone to use.

In exchange for supporting the network, and in essence helping to run the decentralized wireless network, you earn HNT as a mining reward. You can also earn Helium IOT (IOT) and Helium Mobile (MOBILE) depending on the type of Helium miner you buy.

Initially, you could only buy devices capable of HNT mining through Helium themselves, but there are now many third-party hotspot manufacturers you can buy devices from. In order to be able to mine all three assets (HNT, IOT, and MOBILE), you will need to pick a hotspot device capable of both (see image below).

Helium Hotspot Devices

What Does a Helium Miner Do?

Helium mining devices use radio wave technology to provide long-range wireless coverage. Depending on the miner, as seen in the last image, a Helium miner is capable of powering LoRaWAN devices (IOT devices and mining of Helium IOT), and also possibly powering 5G devices (mining of Helium Mobile). The overall effect of having Helium miners set up globally is an extremely accessible and affordable wireless network.

Depending on the type of miner you buy, there are essentially three different types of hotspots you can set up:

A full hotspot, capable of supporting all types of devices, and earning mining rewards for all network activities that go through it. This type of hotspot also maintains a full copy of the Helium blockchain.

A lite-hotspot is essentially the same as a full hotspot, but without keeping a full copy of the Helium blockchain. They can receive rewards for both proof of coverage (HNT), and data transfers (IOT).

A data-only hotspot, which only lets other validators gather information from the Helium blockchain, and they’re rewarded in IOT only.

Advantages of Helium Mining

The main advantage to Helium mining is that if you set up a full hotspot, then you can earn three different crypto assets for your efforts. By setting up a full hotspot you can earn HNT, IOT, and MOBILE. In addition, IOT and MOBILE can easily be traded in for HNT, so you can choose which asset you want to keep the most of.

The other advantage is that you’re helping those with little to no Internet access get connected and for a fraction of the price they would through a traditional service provider. Helium Mobile is already available in the US for $20 a month which gives you an unlimited nationwide 5G phone plan. If and when it expands to countries such as Canada where phone plans are less affordable, having Helium miners set up could be lucrative if residents switch to the Helium network.

Disadvantages of Helium Mining

The only real disadvantage to Helium mining is that if you are in an area where the Helium miner map has a lot of hotspots already, then you will receive less mining rewards than if you had your hotspot set up in an area with no other hotspots. 

It’s also possible that you can set up a Helium miner but have no one in your area access the network, in which case you also wouldn’t receive much in terms of mining rewards.

How to Set Up a Helium Miner

In order to set up a Helium miner you’ll first need to purchase a hotspot miner capable of providing the wireless connectivity Helium requires. You can find a list of hotspot models that have been approved here.

Once you’ve purchased the correct type of miner and have it in hand, along with a smartphone, you can set it up. The first thing you’ll need to do is download the Helium app to the aforementioned smartphone. Then, you’ll need to set up an account, including a Helium wallet, which will all be done through the app. You’ll get a recovery phrase just like you would when setting up any other crypto wallet, while also setting a pin for login purposes.

The next step is to add your miner to the app. In order to do this you’ll need to set up the minder, and pair it to your smartphone or wi-fi network. Once you’ve done this, the hotspot miner will show up on the app, where you can connect to it and configure its settings. 

You can then manage the hotspot and your rewards through the mobile app.

Is Helium Mining Profitable in 2024?

Helium mining can certainly be profitable in 2024, especially seeing as you can mine three assets at once. However, it’s important to do your due diligence, and check things such as the Helium miner map in your area to see if it’s worth setting one up in your area. 

Though it could be profitable, there may also be external factors like mountains and hills in your area which make the hotspot perform worse than expected. As with any investment opportunity, you should research if it’s right for you personally.

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About the Author

Evan Jones

Evan Jones was introduced to cryptocurrency by fellow CryptoVantage contributor Keegan Francis in 2017 and was immediately intrigued by the use cases of many Ethereum-based cryptos. He bought his first hardware wallet shortly thereafter. He has a keen and vested interest in cryptos involving decentralized backend exchanges, payment processing, and power-sharing.

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