FCC : Bitcoin Miner Interferes with T-Mobile Network
After receiving a formal complaint from T-Mobile about interference to its 700 MHz LTE network in Brooklyn, New York, US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) started investigation in November 2017 and discovered that radio emissions were coming from the residence of Victor Rosario. The FCC immediately sent a notice to the resident to turn off his bitcoin mining hardware which was interfering the broadband network operated by T-Mobile. The “Notification of Harmful Interference” stated that the device was “generating spurious emissions on frequencies” for T-Mobile’s network. The notification further stated that through “direction finding techniques”, the FCC Enforcement Bureau determined that the Antminer S5 mining product in his residence was the reason for these “spurious emissions” of radiation. The FCC told ‘Rosario’ that continued interference with T-Mobile’s network while operating the device would be a violation of federal laws "and could subject the operator to severe penalties, including, but not limited to, substantial monetary fines, in rem arrest action to seize the offending radio equipment, and criminal sanctions including imprisonment."
Why did T-mobile cried foul?
Wireless spectrum in the US is carefully regulated to avoid interferences, that is the reason why mobile carriers pay hefty amounts to get the licenses of the airwaves. T-Mobile uses several wireless bands for its nationwide LTE network, but this interference affected its prized 700MHz spectrum. This is known as LTE band 12, and it’s present on all current T-Mobile phones and most unlocked devices. T-Mobile calls band 12 “extended range” LTE because of how well it propagates through obstacles like buildings. Any disturbance to such highly paid spectrum would obviously draw rigorous resistance.
What is Antminer?
The Antminer S5 is a purpose-built Bitcoin mining rig with ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) hardware. That means all it does is process Bitcoin transactions, but it’s faster at it than traditional computing hardware. As believed by the industry experts, Antminer S5 is not a wireless device and therefore should ne not be transmitting anything on 700 MHz band. So, either there is a design flaw or the owner of the device would have made modifications that resulted in such emissions. Post the shutdown of the device, FCC confirmed that interference stopped.
It was observed in the Washington state that Bitcoin mining overloaded the electrical infrastructure of an entire country due to the increasing number of miners who wanted to take advantage of Washington’s cheap electricity. With increasing acceptance and desire to make quick money, we can be assured of many more incidents affecting the national infrastructures of the countries worldwide in near future. FCC is researching the issue and have asked ‘Roasrio’ a set of questions about the device like Manufacturer, Model, Serial Number and where it was purchased. The Antminer S5 was released in 2014 and is no longer on sale.