What is PoCv11? What should I do?

Helium App Hotspot Update
UPDATE: The Helium Core team is pushing the PoCv11 launch to October 18, 2021.

What is PoCv11?

Proof-of-Coverage (PoC) is used to verify the asserted locations of hotspots. Although a hotspot owner can assert the location of their hotspot to wherever they would like, verifying the location of the hotspot requires radio data that is collected through PoC challenges. PoCv11 specifically, as described in the official Helium discord announcement, will “increase the variety of data on chain for Proof-of-Coverage” and “improve fairness of PoC receipt data and, consequently, rewards.”

What does it change?

Before PoCv11, hotspots got rewarded based on how fast they could respond to a PoC challenger. Here, the challenger would wait for the first 25 witnesses to respond or 20 blocks to pass before all the data got collected and submitted to the blockchain. So, instead of rewarding users for their optimized hotspot placement and antenna setups, they would instead get rewarded for having a faster internet connection. Since it is unlikely that internet speeds would drastically change between PoC challenges, this resulted in the same hotspots responding when a PoC challenge took place in their area. Being that the point of proof-of-coverage is to verify every hotspots location, a change needed to be made that would allow a wider range of hotspots to submit data to the blockchain so there would be a more diverse dataset to improve the blockchain’s ability to decide and reward coverage.

Now, PoC challengers are required to wait the full 20 blocks before collecting and submitting all the data to the blockchain. After 20 blocks, the challenger shuffles the received witness receipts and randomly selects up to 25 witnesses to write to the blockchain. This gives the challengee more time to send their receipt data to the challenger, that way the chance of them not getting their receipt data to the challenger on time decreases.

Why is it important?

According to the core developers’ discord announcement, “this update will enable better data collection and lead to better verification of location data. It will also enable network participants to understand the topology of our wireless network in a better way.” 

What else has changed?

Now I will quickly go over two other changes the core developers announced on discord.

First, they plan on reducing the witness limits from 25 to 10 and the PoC challenge interval from 300 to 240. They say this will increase PoC activity by 20% and reduce the maximum number of witnesses per PoC. In the future, they would like to get the PoC interval down to 200 blocks or fewer, but need to take this slowly in order to ensure all network devices can keep up and stay synced.

Second, they want to increase the transaction rate by increasing the batch size from 1200 to 1500. This, combined with the change mentioned above, also needs to be taken slowly in order to ensure all network devices can keep up and stay synced.

How are hotspot owners affected?

Most hotspot owners should see an increase in the number of times hotspots in their area are targeted for challenges. Although the witness limit will be reduced from 25 to 10, witness randomization should make this change less noticeable when looking at PoC activity. It is also more fair for hotspot owners who have a slower internet connection. 

Call to action

  1. Assert your hotspot in the right location: If hotspots are asserted “nearby,” PoCv11 may affect you. Location updates cost approximately $10 in Data Credits as a blockchain fee. This fee gets burned and is not sent to any individual or company.
  2. Assert your antenna gain: This is important as PoCv11 may scale down your transmission power based on antenna gain to fit local regulations. Antenna height is not necessary for PoCv11, but could be helpful for network evaluation purposes.
  3. Encourage others to complete these steps to improve coverage and rewards around you.

Additional Resources