Home Coins Helium (HNT) Proof-of-Coverage and Consensus Group Improvements: Call for Discussion | by Abhay Kumar...

Proof-of-Coverage and Consensus Group Improvements: Call for Discussion | by Abhay Kumar | Oct, 2020


The People’s Network is the fastest-growing wireless network and it’s thanks to the Helium community. In the past few months, we’ve seen significant discussions on governance, economics, and network security that have culminated in a set of proposals around Proof-of-Coverage and Consensus Group improvements. As a result, there are implied changes in the way HNT mining works which require a call for discussion. We invite you all to participate in this public forum crucial to the future of the Helium Blockchain.

We’ve seen two primary Helium Improvement Proposals (HIPs) on improvements to Proof-of-Coverage, HIP 14 from @anthonyra and HIP 15 from @Carniverous19 / para1, both from the community. You can read more about Proof-of-Coverage here. Both of these improvements have been proposed to adjust PoC targeting to more effectively reward the Hotspots providing the best coverage and value to the network. An additional HIP 17 has also been proposed in order to enhance HIP 15.

Although the HIP 14 proposal has been produced and has some merits, the Helium Blockchain development team recommends a version of HIP 15 be put forward for discussion and approval by the community. Our objective for PoC is for it to be a proxy for validating real network coverage capabilities of The People’s Network. We believe that HIP 15 is a step in the right direction. The proposal fulfills two current needs: simplifying coverage validation through beaconing and encouraging the appropriate amount of density. Additionally, this approach will improve our ability to collect data on valid witnesses and potentially trustworthy Hotspots in the field.

The Helium team is excited to see the proposal of HIP 16 and feel that it’s a natural evolution of Consensus Group selection. You can read more about the current Consensus Group here. The Consensus Group is crucial for network security. Today, the group is selected using the PoC based score but we believe that this score is a poor approximation of good performance on the network. In fact, the Helium team has often recommended that the score be ignored by members of the Helium community as it does not truly represent performance of a Hotspot. We are happy to recommend this change, also from the community, and prioritize the engineering work required to implement it. We’d like to defer conversations around staking and slashing for entry into the consensus group, as originally mentioned in HIP 9, for a later date when it makes more sense.

We have a few modifications of the approach taken by HIP 15 we’d like to propose. Specifically, while we’re in favor of scaling rewards for witnesses based on density, we don’t believe that doing it based on geography (HIP 17) is appropriate for the network. Using fixed H3 hexagons or other means is less indicative of radio frequency coverage than any Witness data due to the fact that all hexagons are not the same from a transmission perspective. Natural or man made boundaries may impact a particular hexagon over another. Additionally, we don’t believe that the additional complexity of the cost function / decay rate introduced in HIP 15 is necessary for an initial implementation. A linear reduction could be applied to start after a certain target witness density (configured with a chain variable) is reached.

We also believe that with an implementation of HIP 15, we should also introduce an economic change to PoC rewards. You can see the current rewards scheme for all HNT minted here. The PoC portion of HNT rewards (27.5%) is split between Challengers (0.95%), Challengees (18%), and Witnesses (8.55%). With the Challengees becoming beacon-emitters in HIP 15, and no longer responsible for multi-path challenges, we believe that the work will fundamentally change and economics should also be adjusted. We believe that keeping Challengers at the current 0.95% and adjusting Challengees to 3.55% and Witnesses to the remaining 23% is appropriate. Since the goal of PoC is to validate coverage, Witnesses are affirming that they see a transmission from a Challengee and should be rewarded accordingly. This will need to be proposed as an additional addendum to HIP 15 and would like to see it from the community if there is agreement.

We’re looking forward to the discussion on Discord in the #hips channel over the next few days, culminating in the DeWi community call next Wednesday, October 28th @ 9 AM PT. To reinforce orderly implementation schedules, it is desirable to reach rough consensus by this time such that we can test and deploy the changes to the blockchain in a few weeks!



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