Helium Network Team Resolves Consensus Error After A 4-Hour Outage

During the 4 hours that the Helium network was down due to a problem in the Consensus Group, token transfers and miner rewards were affected, but devices were not.

Helium, the Internet of Things (IoT) blockchain, went offline for around 4 hours on July 11 owing to validator outages caused by a software update, resulting in delayed transaction finality.

Devices sending data over the network were not affected by the outage, but miner incentives and token transfers were left waiting. The team fixed the problem by moving the blockchain forward by one block and returning to normal operations.

According to a status report, the Consensus Group ceased creating blocks at block height 1435692 on the Helium (HNT) blockchain at 10:20 a.m. EDT. Token transfers could not be completed due to a lack of network consensus, and new blocks could not be generated.

Helium is an Internet of Things network that employs actual radio hotspots to connect people to their devices from anywhere there is radio service. A Consensus Group on the Helium network consists of 43 validator nodes chosen at random in set intervals to provide network consensus.

Helium engineers highlighted two reasons validators ceased creating consensus on the network in the event’s postmortem.

First, a bug in a July 8 software upgrade for validators exacerbated the problem. The v1.12.3 upgrade was created to support the 5G Mobile subnetwork and associated MOBILE token.

In addition, a “local network failure” was to blame. Helium moderator “Digerati” noted in the project’s Discord channel that at the time of the outage, a high concentration of validators randomly picked as the Consensus Group was running on the same Amazon Web Service (AWS) network that was experiencing technical difficulties.

AWS is a global cloud computing and data storage service that can be used to supplement computer networks such as Helium.

The failure of an auto-skip feature, which should have chosen a new Consensus Group automatically, exacerbated the problem. According to the team, “a known bug prevented the auto-skip feature from functioning as planned.” However, it is unclear what the researchers meant by the “known concern.”

Although the network was unable to select a different Consensus Group, it was created with the option to skip the blockchain a block forward “to minimize scenarios such as these,” according to a team announcement at 10:56 a.m. ET.

By 1:45 p.m. ET, new block production with block number 1435693 has begun. The team stated that it worked closely with validator operators to ensure proper sync and delivered a fresh software upgrade.

According to CoinGecko, HNT is down 4.1 percent in the last 24 hours, trading at $8.76. It is down 84% from its all-time peak in November 2021.