FCC orders shut down of BTC mining rig due to “harmful interference”

The FCC notified a bitcoin miner that he has to stop his mining operations as it is disrupting T-mobile's signals in the vicinity. The FCC's “direction finding techniques” revealed the cause of this interference to be an Antminer S5 mining rig.
A New York resident has been issued a first-of-its-kind notice from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Dated February 15th, the official notice was titled “Notification of Harmful Interference”. It states that the resident is causing interference with T-Mobile’s broadband network through his bitcoin mining rig.

The FCC detailed that they had been receiving complaints from T-Mobile regarding interference with its network in Brooklyn. The agency’s “direction finding techniques” finally revealed the cause of this interference to be the an Antminer S5 mining rig. Apparently, it was releasing emissions on the same frequency as that of T-Mobile’s 700MHz LTE network.

The notice strictly orders the resident named Victor Rosario to switch off his device. His mining activities were declared illegal under the federal law, as they cause “harmful interference”. The warning stated that noncompliance would subject the miner to penalties like a monetary fine or even imprisonment.

However, this does not mean that every Antminer S5 user needs to shut down their device.  The FCC clarifies that the warning does not necessarily imply that anyone operating an Antminer S5 is actually breaking the law.

They clearly stated that the notification is not meant for the device’s “brand or model”, but only for that one specific unit. The notice did not reveal why exactly Rosario’s rig is the only one to cause disruption. It is possible that it was tampered with to change frequency settings in order to increase mining speed.

The FCC has also asked Rosario to provide information regarding the manufacturer and seller of his device. He has been given 20 days to respond to the warning and provide the mentioned information. The notice added that mining operations must not resume until the condition resulting in this harmful disruption is fixed.

Bitcoin mining is a way to earn bitcoins by solving complex mathematical problems for the network, in order to facilitate transaction confirmation processes. Mining also shields the network against “double spending” attempts. There are companies especially dedicated to manufacturing ASIC miners, which are indispensable to bitcoin miners. The Antminer S5 was first released in 2014 by Bitmain.

Although this FCC warning is the first of its kind, it is not the first time mining has created problems. Bitcoin mining requires massive amounts of electrical energy. Just last month, the electrical infrastructure of a small county in Washington state got overloaded due to extensive cryptocurrency mining operations. Miners had flocked there to take advantage of the state’s cheap electricity.
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