US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revealed in an official “notification of harmful interference” document that a bitcoin mining facility based in Brooklyn, New York interfered with T-Mobile’s LTE network by sending harmful radio emissions to the telecom’s 700 MHz band.
The FCC noted in an document published on February 15 that on November 30, a complaint by T-Mobile has been received about potential interference with its mobile network. An investigation by FCC discovered that a bitcoin miner, Bitmain’s Antminer s5 Bitcoin Miner to be specific, interfered with the LTE network of T-Mobile.
“On November 30, 2017, in response to the complaint agents from the Enforcement Bureau’s New York Office confirmed by direction finding techniques that radio emissions in the 700 MHz band were emanating from your residence in Brooklyn, New York. When the interfering device was turned off the interference ceased. You identified the device as an Antminer s5 Bitcoin Miner. The device was generating spurious emissions on frequencies assigned to T-Mobile’s broadband network and causing harmful interference,” read the FCC’s statement.
The FCC emphasized continuous interference with the telecom’s mobile network through the utilization of bitcoin miners is against federal laws, and the failure to cease operations or prevent the device in question from emitting harmful radio emissions to the LTE network of T-Mobile is in violation of an FCC regulation.
“The operator of a radio frequency device shall be required to cease operating the device upon notification by a Commission representative that the device is causing harmful interference. Operation shall not resume until the condition causing the harmful interference has been corrected,” the FCC’s document added, noting that the device can continue to operate if it stops harmful radio emission from affecting local networks.
Most bitcoin mining facilities and centers are based in regions with cold climate and cheap sources of electricity. Miners tend to relocate to regions like Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Canada that abundant sources of renewable energy. Countries like Iceland that have virtually all of its electricity generated with hydroelectric power plants and solar power plants have cheap electricity readily available for bitcoin miners, that lead to a significant decrease in operating costs.
Miners seldom base their operations in cities like New York, due to expensive land, resources, and electricity. New York is the sixth most expensive city in terms of real estate, on a per-square-foot basis. Hence, cryptocurrency miners do not normally based their operations or establish mining facilities in the state of New York.
Cases of mining facilities interfering with LTE and mobile networks of large-scale telecoms have not been reported in the past because the vast majority of mining facilities are not established in crowded cities or regions.
It is entirely possible that newer generation mining equipment and ASIC chips do not generate harmful emission that affect local networks. The device flagged by the FCC is the Antminer s4 of Bitmain, which was released in 2014. Bitmain, the company that produces the Antminer series, already released Antminer s9.
Competitors in the mining sector such as Halong Mining have also started to create more sophisticated mining equipment, that may reduce the likelihood of miners interfering with mobile networks.
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