How much data does a Helium miner need, REALLY?


It’s a common and important question. How much data do these boxes actually need?

The state of Helium in January 2021 is such that the next big wave of boxes entering the scene (RAK v2) will be packet forwarders and miners all in one – meaning no DIY cloud miners with endpoint nodes subsisting on a whisper of data. If you’re concerned about bandwidth usage, listen closely. RAK v2’s will have the mining software built along side the LoRa forwarding software, all in one convenient package, but only accessible via bluetooth, ethernet or wifi, with a Raspberry Pi running the show.

To really dig deep, I brought together a Raspberry Pi to act as a cell backhaul wired router (more on this at a later date). My Helium hotspot has LoRa transmit + miner included, aka the full data hog setup. I’m utilizing a 4G/LTE data plan with no speed caps to make these measurements. My node is nothing special, it has about 4-5 witnesses and brings in 10-15 HNT per day as of early January 2021.

I use the eth0 fields within /proc/net/dev as a way to measure bandwidth usage. Informational link.

cat /proc/net/dev

Below are graphs on a cumulative basis (the linear looking ones) and on an 15 minute increment basis. In this 5 day period, a couple takeaways:
  • You’re receiving 2-4 mb every 15 minutes.
  • You’re transmitting between 2-7 mb every 15 minutes.
  • Usage is consistent through the 24 hours.
  • Extrapolating to a month, thats 8.6gb per month receive, 20gb per month transmit.

As an independent source of data, I asked my mobile carrier to give me a report in this same timespan. One datapoint in their (confusing) report is I used 824090 kb during a 72159 seconds session across receive and transmit, or about 90 kbps on a continuous basis.

It’s important to note I was not in a consensus group during this period. I hear those need even more data, possible 10x more, for a limited period of time.

This 5 day window overall has smooth consistent predictable level of traffic – no highs or lows. There’s an interesting transmit inflection point on January 11th 2021 – software update? Not sure.

So the TLDR is budget for 30gb between receive and transmit. Is that a lot? According to some sources, Netflix consumes between 20-60gb/month. So, bringing a Helium miner into your home is like having another roommate who watches a lot of Netflix.