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FCC Blames Bitcoin Mining Hardware For Disrupting T-Mobile LTE Service In Brooklyn

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ordered a resident in Brooklyn, New York to cease his Bitcoin mining operation after it was discovered that the hardware he was using to mine Bitcoin was causing interference with 4G LTE signals on T-Mobile's wireless network. If that is truly the case, this incident adds a new wrinkle to the already controversial world of cryptocurrency.

In a letter to the person responsible, the FCC said it used "direction finding techniques" to locate the source of the offending hardware, in this case an Antminer s5 Bitcoin miner, a popular mining ASIC that is purpose built for Bitcoin mining. These units sell for several hundred dollars and are capable of mining cryptocurrencies that use the SHA-256 algorithm for block hasing, including Bitcoin, Namecoin, Peercoin, and several others.

"The device was generating spurious emissions on frequencies assigned to T-Mobile's broadband network and causing harmful interference... Continued operation of [the Antminer s5 Bitcoin miner] that causes harmful interference after you receipt of this warning constitutes a violation of the Federal laws cited above 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," the letter states.

It's not clear if the person responsible was running a single Antminer or had several them in operation. Mining cryptocurrencies requires large amounts of computational power. Some, such as Ethereum, are mined best with graphics cards, while others work best with CPUs and specialized ASIC hardware. There is also the cost of electricity to consider—bigger mining outfits typically set up shop in places where electricity is comparatively cheap. That's not necessarily the case in Brooklyn.

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