Helium mining has been a successful venture for the Helium Network project, building a people-powered Internet-of-Things connectivity network by rewarding hotspot gateway hosts with HNT tokens.
In fact, Helium has been so successful with this model that Coindesk observers have called its miner incentive approach a victim of its own success. That’s because the global supply of semiconductor chips dried up during COVID, resulting in Helium mining device manufacturers being unable to keep up with demand.
Helium has deployed nearly 700,000 hotspots worldwide, but there are still about 3 million on backorder.
As the backlog of unfulfilled Helium miners has dragged on, some would-be miner hosts have gotten so frustrated they filed a class-action lawsuit against one of the distributors. Their claims included months-long waits and even being unable to get refunds.
One of Helium’s biggest mining device suppliers is RAK Wireless. RAK responded to their end-users’ frustration by creating the MNTD sub-brand mining device, bypassing distributors and selling directly to consumers in North America and the European Union.
The semiconductor chip problem has not gone away, and demand still exceeds supply, but RAK only offers miners when they have them in stock and can ship them immediately. The prices for MNTD miners are also as inexpensive or sometimes much more inexpensive than buying through distributors or on EBay.
Would-be customers register for the RAK newsletter that informs them when a new batch of miners is available to buy, either in North America or in the EU.
Mining device inventory typically come available for sale every few weeks. Early offers of MNTD miners have sold out in as little as ten minutes. In some cases it was reported that the “Shopify” purchase portal was unable to keep up with the massive demand, including bot traffic, causing more frustration with would-be customers.
To provide a fairer way for people to buy a miner when they become available, RAKwireless has recently implemented a drop queue approach that randomly assigns each customer a spot in the purchase line.
MNTD also provides transparency about the number of units available.
Helium hotspot miners have an enthusiastic following. It typically only takes a few minutes to connect a mining device to internet and power, then Helium will regularly send HNT to the host’s Helium wallet every time the miner transfers data from IoT devices or talks to other hotspots, with no work on the part of the host, for years to come.
Finding a good location within neighborhoods, with other hotspots in range, makes the biggest difference in mining rewards payouts. Depending on location, Helium mining hosts can passively earn anywhere from a few dollars per month to more than $2,000 per month.