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2024 update: Utah’s crypto antenna mystery remains unsolved

2024 update: Utah's crypto antenna mystery remains unsolved

Over two years ago, a discovery of mysterious antennas, consisting of a locked battery box, a router, and a solar panel, in the mountains of the Salt Lake City area has left the Utah authorities baffled over their origin, and today, there is still no official answer as to who was behind them.

Specifically, Salt Lake’s recreational trails manager Tyler Fonarow said in January 2023 that the antennas, which many believe have something to do with mining cryptocurrencies, had been popping up for a year before, leading city officials to set out to remove them, as Finbold reported at the time.

As placing structures on public lands without permission is illegal, and some of the antennas were on steep hills, the authorities had embarked on removing them, with Salt Lake City Public Lands sharing the photos on its Facebook profile and urging anyone with information to come forward.

Facebook post on mysterious antennas in Utah. Source: Salt Lake City Public Lands
Facebook post on mysterious antennas in Utah. Source: Salt Lake City Public Lands

Helium hotspots?

According to one theory, these antennas belong to the wireless blockchain platform Helium and potentially serve as hotspots for its customers so they can mine the network’s native token, HNT, and earn money, which would mean that those individuals were the ones setting them up after purchase.

Moreover, many social media users have corroborated the theory that these devices are, indeed, Helium crypto miner antennas, based on the photographs and close-ups shared by local news outlet KSL 5 TV’s Michael Locklear in a tweet (now X post) on January 6, 2023.

Similarities to Helium hotspots

In fact, upon closer inspection, the setups on the photographs look much like the Helium mining equipment available for purchase in online marketplaces like eBay, such as the Helium Rak Miner Antenna bundle, or directly from their manufacturers.  

On top of that, in March 2021, much before the publicized discovery, the owner of the website/blog Gristle King – A Guide to DePIN, only known as ‘Nik,’ shared a photograph of what appears to be him standing next to an antenna for a Helium hotspot as he explained which product was the best to buy.

Man standing next to Helium hotspot antenna. Source: Gristle King
Man standing next to Helium hotspot antenna. Source: Gristle King

Additionally, the images posted by technology product reviews and tutorials website in November 2021, which describe how to make a DIY solar off-grid Helium miner, strikingly resemble the mysterious devices found in the mountains of Utah, so the Helium theory is valid.

DIY solar off-grid Helium miners. Source:
DIY solar off-grid Helium miners. Source:

Furthermore, information security expert William Knowles acknowledged at the time that the devices looked like Helium miners but that “whoever is placing them is spending more on infrastructure than they could ever dream of making today,” as HNT had “been on a major slide even before FTX and 3AC happened.”

That said, so far, there has been no official communication or explanation coming from either Helium or Utah authorities (or any other government bodies, for that matter) regarding the true origin of the mysterious crypto-linked antennas popping up across the mountainous region of Salt Lake City.

Featured image via Michael Locklear X profile

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