The core team is aware of long block times. They are investigating and will update the community as soon as we know more.
Funds are safe, Hotspots are still mining. You may see transactions take a long time to clear or not clear at all. At this time, do not send additional transactions until block production resumes.
Quick update: We've identified a root cause and are working with our Validator community on resuming block production.
Another Update: the root cause stems from Hotspots constantly reaching out to Validators without backoff due to a latent bug triggered by a series of slow blocks. The solution to Validators as we get block production back on track is for Validators to close the communication channel that Hotspots use to get ledger information and challenges (this is referenced as port 8080 in Validator-announcements).
The goal of closing off this port is for Validators to regain their CPU and produce blocks. Once block production resumes, Validators can reopen their ports to communicate with Hotspots once again.
This means that for the next few hours, Challenges per block will go down (but not to zero, as not all Validators will have closed their ports) but will eventually go back to normal as Validators are instructed to reopen their ports. This brings me to discuss an important benefit of Off-Chain PoC (where Hotspots beacon on their own and do not rely on Validators on creating these challenges) as described in HIP 70. The core team now has a testing firmware build where Hotspots can beacon on their own but it is not ready for production as there is still some work to do on validating challenges off-chain. There's no estimated completion date as we want to thoroughly test the new flow (with ourselves first, then with makers) but know that this is the core team's top of mind. Today at 6:55 AM Picking back up on announcements here since we appear to have halted again. The network appears to have hit the same issue that was cleared earlier and most likely the root cause of the initial outage. The core team and Validator operators in the community are working together to resolve this issue.
Hotspots will not be participating in Proof of Coverage until block production resumes. All funds are safe, but pending transactions will be delayed until we can resolve this halt. Pending Transactions include adding a Hotspot, changing a Hotspot Location, transferring a Hotspot, payments, and token burns. At this time, data transfer is not affected by the chain halt. Today at 8:23 AM The core devs and the validator community have identified what we believe is the root cause of chain halt (and the prior one) and a new validator release is being prepared. In the meantime, a hotfix has been applied to some validator nodes in the Consensus Group and block production has resumed.
Source: Official Helium Community Discord