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Communications Bitcoin

FCC Orders a Brooklyn Man To Turn Off His Bitcoin Miner Because It Was Interfering With T-Mobile's Wireless Network (arstechnica.com) 207

A New York City resident was ordered to turn off his bitcoin miner after the Federal Communications Commission discovered that it was interfering with T-Mobile's wireless network. From a report: After receiving a complaint from T-Mobile about interference to its 700MHz LTE network in Brooklyn, New York, FCC agents in November 2017 determined that radio emissions in the 700MHz band were coming from the residence of a man named Victor Rosario. "When the interfering device was turned off the interference ceased," the FCC's enforcement bureau told Rosario in a "Notification of Harmful Interference" yesterday. "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." 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."
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FCC Orders a Brooklyn Man To Turn Off His Bitcoin Miner Because It Was Interfering With T-Mobile's Wireless Network

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  • This dude had better move his miner, or the FCC might send him another harshly worded letter.

    • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @03:23PM (#56158738)

      Harshly worded letter? They'll fine him $10,000 and then seize the equipment and destroy it. Don't mess with the FCC where interference is concerned, he's lucky they gave him a warning instead of just outright fining him because they could have just hit him with the $10k fine and seized the equipment on the first contact.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by HornWumpus ( 783565 )

        You have obviously never filed an interference complaint with the FCC

        I used to be able to hear my neighbors shitty CB radio plus linear through my landline, TV, radio and microwave oven.

        I eventually put a pin through his coax, which apparently burned out his linear. Ha Ha!

        Uncle Charlie is useless and basically toothless. They only wrote the letter because TMobile was involved. Unless you have a HAM licence to protect you can, more or less, ignore them.

        • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @03:47PM (#56158924)

          All the devices you list are part 15, they are required to accept all interference and that guy on the CB is protected unless you can show he's interfering with protected services. That 700mhz band in the story, it's a protected band and subject to the interference rules.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by hjf ( 703092 )

            pretty sure TV is a protected service and interfering with it will get you in trouble.

            • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @04:44PM (#56159300)

              It depends. If the transmitter is actually radiating on the TV channels frequency, then yes, the transmitter can be fined. However, if the problem is that his TV, telephone, and everything else are picking up legally transmitted signals then it is HIS problem.

            • pretty sure TV is a protected service and interfering with it will get you in trouble.

              TV is not a protected service. Specific bands are, but you will find very rarely that the bands are actually blocked and rather the TV is not coping with generic other interference. e.g. Your TV may not work (part 15), but if they come with a spectrum analyser and don't see noise on the frequency they tried to tune then the CB transmitter is in the all clear.

              Some devices are really sensitive to receiver desensitization.

          • that guy on the CB is protected unless you can show he's interfering with protected services

            His linear is a violation.

          • ...that guy on the CB is protected unless you can show he's interfering with protected services or running an illegal amplifier.

            FTFY

            Running an external amp is illegal on CB radios.

        • by Trogre ( 513942 )

          You could hear it through your microwave oven?

          Please, tell us more.

        • I eventually put a pin through his coax, which apparently burned out his linear. Ha Ha!

          And you're a psychopath. Have fun with that. Ha ha!

        • I eventually put a pin through his coax, which apparently burned out his linear. Ha Ha!

          I, too, love to chuckle about committing felonies (depending on the price of his amp) based on my complete misunderstanding of regulations and my rights and responsibilities under them. Hee hee, ho ho!

        • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @07:23PM (#56160529)

          I used to be able to hear my neighbors shitty CB radio plus linear through my landline, TV, radio and microwave oven.

          The FCC has very limited resources to investigate interference complaints, so RESIDENTIAL users generally go by the wayside.
          Until they start interfering with a commercial radio service or public safety, at which point the FCC prioritizes a reponse --- i've heard the people who work for that agency say they try to have all complaints from businesses addressed within 10 days or less, and for public safety the time frame is 24 hours.

          So if someone's pumping out CB with an Illegal 1Kilowatt amplifier; pinning the coax doesn't sound too unreasonable -- CB users are not legally to be using ANY kind of amplifiers anyways - the FCC generally just isn't there to quickly solve your personal RF woes caused by a neighbor anymore, unless they're making trouble for many people...

          Unless you have a HAM licence to protect you can, more or less, ignore them.

          Um... your license, If you have one, isn't even at risk, unless you have a bad history or refuse to cooperate with them and
          allow station inspections or were being ridiculously negligent or doing deliberately doing something very bad like out-of-band
          emissions, emitting an excessive wattage at ground levels, or failing to suppress harmonics...

          Most cases of "interference" are just people using cheap electronics, TVs, Phones, etc which are inadequately shielded ---
          in this case, the legal responsibility is for the people suffering interference to buy equipment of good design, instead.

      • This, you really don't ever want to fuck with the FCC - they only even enforce things that are actual problems and this is down-right generous on their part compared to all the stories I've heard. They have a legitimate function and take it very seriously. The closest anyone ever came to successfully transgressing was that time the satellite internet+radio guys tried to buy politicians to use the GPS spectrum, until a general put a stop to it saying "no, this would break all our shit and leave us defensel
      • Harshly worded letter? They'll fine him $10,000 and then seize the equipment and destroy it. Don't mess with the FCC where interference is concerned, he's lucky they gave him a warning instead of just outright fining him because they could have just hit him with the $10k fine and seized the equipment on the first contact.

        What ever happened to that requirement to "accept RF interference" without causing improper operation?

        Doesn't his equipment have the "right" to spew anything it wants, at any frequency it wants, as long as the radiated power is below 100 mW?

        • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

          Wow, what a complete mis-reading of part 15.

          There is NO such requirement as 'accept interference without causing improper operation'. That statement is not a technical requirment, it is a regulatory one. What it means is 'as this is an unlicensed device, you have no regulatory recourse for any and all interference, including that which causes unwanted operation'.

          The second part is 'must not CAUSE interference' which means that if the device causes interference, regardless of the reason, you must stop usin

          • Wow, what a complete mis-reading of part 15.

            There is NO such requirement as 'accept interference without causing improper operation'. That statement is not a technical requirment, it is a regulatory one. What it means is 'as this is an unlicensed device, you have no regulatory recourse for any and all interference, including that which causes unwanted operation'.

            The second part is 'must not CAUSE interference' which means that if the device causes interference, regardless of the reason, you must stop using it.

            Thanks for the clarification!

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        he's lucky they gave him a warning instead of just outright fining him because they could have just hit him with the $10k fine and seized the equipment

        Nope.... contrary to your ideas --- An In Rem proceeding is harder than that for the FCC -- requires some proof of a willful crime, and except in an "emergency" or if Public Safety is affected (Such as Fire or Police radio frequencies - to which the FCC has a response within 24 hours, Versus 5 to 10 days for interference to commercial services) subje

    • This dude had better move his miner, or the FCC might send him another harshly worded letter.

      No, actually the next letter from the FCC would likely be a NAL...(Notice of Apparent Liability) Which amounts to a fine which can run thousands of dollars a day. Although, what they would likely do is knock on his door and ask to inspect the premises and explain to those present their responsibility to fix the problem before resorting to the official fine.

      IF you are running a part-15 device, you get to fix any interference problems your device causes at your expense and the FCC can issue you fines.

      Of co

    • by Mysticalfruit ( 533341 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @03:57PM (#56158992) Homepage Journal
      You misunderstand the actual power of the FCC. Their threats are NOT empty. They have the power to levy fines, have right of entry powers, etc. They don't give a fly fuck about two CB channels cross talking... but fuck with spectrum that's being used by a commercial or governmental entity and they'll drop a fucking hammer on your head.

      I was once involved with a college radio station and due to an equipment malfunction (our attenuator failed) we were accidentally transmitting at a much higher power than we should have... the FCC showed up at a campus, exercised their right of entry, disconnected our receiver and then changed the locks. Needless to say, it was a fluckercluck.

         
      • the FCC showed up at a campus, exercised their right of entry, disconnected our receiver and then changed the locks. Needless to say, it was a fluckercluck.

        I suspect they disconnected your transmitter, not the receiver...

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      At least he would be able to afford to pay the fine.

  • This machine was highly modified. They guy is also a tinfoil hat type who thought he was creating free energy with his modifications.

    • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @02:56PM (#56158578) Homepage

      If the miner had its own tinfoil hat, there wouldn't have been any interference!

      • Re:Mr. Tinfoil (Score:4, Informative)

        by sinij ( 911942 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @03:03PM (#56158616)

        If the miner had its own tinfoil hat, there wouldn't have been any interference!

        Only if it was grounded.

        • A faraday cage works regardless of grounding ... troll.

          • by HiThere ( 15173 )

            Clearly, I'm not expert, but...

            That's always seemed dubious to me. That an aluminum foil box would decrease signal strength significantly is plausible, but wouldn't the corners act as antennas? Perhaps, though, it's just my idea of the shape that's wrong. If you shape it like a cylinder or sphere I wouldn't think you'd get that effect.

            OTOH, an earlier post indicated that most probably the problem is with failed joins between separate sheets of aluminum foil, and that seems even more likely.

        • by Megol ( 3135005 )

          Don't know why people think this is informative - because it's wrong. If the device was properly shielded it wouldn't cause interference.

      • Re:Mr. Tinfoil (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @03:35PM (#56158826)

        What you want here isn't just a shield, it's a choke - the emission was probably via the power supply cable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hetero ( 5159127 )
          Unfortunately, you will probably be modded down as troll or something while "sinij" is modded from +4 to +5 on his wrong answer. CORRECT on your part. Conducted emissions are always half the battle and generally easy to handle with EMI suppressors.
    • He is from Brooklyn. How would he fit that tinfoil hat over his man-bun?
    • by sycodon ( 149926 )

      So he really needs a tinfoil box.

  • No FCC ID (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Raven ( 30575 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @02:48PM (#56158522) Homepage

    How much you want to bet that the Antminer S5 has no FCC ID, because they never bothered to get one.

    He could turn it back on, he just needs to put his miner inside a faraday cage of some kind.

    • by stooo ( 2202012 )

      Why should it ? It doesn't have a transmitter.

      • Re:No FCC ID (Score:5, Informative)

        by BenFranske ( 646563 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @03:30PM (#56158780) Homepage

        Pretty much all commercially sold electronic equipment needs to be FCC certified for sale in the US specifically because they can cause interference like this. See https://www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/rfd... [fcc.gov] specifically the sections on unintentional and incidental radiators.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just about everything emits broad-spectrum, just most objects are pretty quiet. For example, the radio astronomers at Green Bank WV had issues with the construction of their new telescopes in the late 1990s, because the spark plugs in the trucks of the construction workers coming into the site emitted enough radio that the other dishes would pick it up as they drove by. It doesn't have to have an antenna.

        • Indeed. They actually have to use diesel vehicles only within a certain area at the observatory for that reason.
          • Indeed. They actually have to use diesel vehicles only within a certain area at the observatory for that reason.

            I presume they use only mechanical diesels with generators, not alternators? Because modern diesels have solenoid fuel injectors. That would restrict you to early-nineties American trucks, or early-eighties Mercedes cars... And you'd still have to retrofit a generator.

      • IF you operate a device that radiates RF, you are subject to FCC regulation. Usually part 15. Computers radiate lots of RF.

        Part 15 devices cannot interfere with any licensed service. So this guy's computer draws the foul from the FCC and will get fined if he doesn't fix it.

        A metal box would be a great solution..

      • And yet it transmits.

      • Why should it ? It doesn't have a transmitter.

        Actually, it does. It's called an "unintentional radiator" under Part 15 of the FCC regulations, and like any other device with fast switching, it spews noise all over the radio spectrum. This could be resolved with a metal case and proper bypassing of signals on cables where they enter the enclosure. But they don't care enough to do that.

    • He could turn it back on, he just needs to put his miner inside a faraday cage of some kind.

      Like, inside a jail cell, in a federal prison . . . ?

      It boggles my mind how much electricity we are wasting on these cryptocoins. I mean, it's not like the miners are actually producing something that will be physically there afterwards.

      The electricity is all just more or less going up in smoke. But, if folks want to speculate with smoke, why not sell them some . . . ?

      "Would you like some mirrors as a side order for your smoke, sir . . . ?

  • Meh. (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Grim Reefer ( 1162755 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @02:52PM (#56158542)
    The letter states he can operate it if he fixes the interference. TFS makes it sound like the FCC won't let him mine bitcoin at all.
    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

      Yeah, I was wondering why not just surround the thing in a small Faraday cage and call it a day.

      • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Funny)

        by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @03:09PM (#56158648)

        But what if he wants to call his Faraday cage something else than "a day"?

      • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Informative)

        by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @03:38PM (#56158842)

        Faraday cages aren't magic interference stoppers. The emission here was most likely via the power supply cables (or, less likely, data), and those would have to pass through the cage.

        Here's how you fix it:
        1. Read an article on noise surpression, choke design, capacitive coupling in inductors, choke self-resonance and core material selection.
        2. Go ask your nearest ham to build you a noise filter.

        • Faraday cages aren't magic interference stoppers. The emission here was most likely via the power supply cables (or, less likely, data), and those would have to pass through the cage.

          Here's how you fix it:
          1. Read an article on noise surpression, choke design, capacitive coupling in inductors, choke self-resonance and core material selection.
          2. Go ask your nearest ham to build you a noise filter.

          Back through a SMPS? Those things generally have ferrite rings and fairly hefty inductors in the power supply. And besides, the SMPS is chopping everything up into little pieces anyway; so I kind of doubt it is RF reflected back onto the power line.

          • and the primary and secondary of a smps are generally capacitively coupled.
            If the common mode choke on the input isn't enough to stop the EMI, it will go straight through. They're generally only big enough to stop the power supply itself from causing too much conducted EMI.

            • and the primary and secondary of a smps are generally capacitively coupled.
              If the common mode choke on the input isn't enough to stop the EMI, it will go straight through. They're generally only big enough to stop the power supply itself from causing too much conducted EMI.

              Ok, perhaps. But then, what about those magic Ferrite Rings?

              • They're not actually magic. They'll attenuate high frequency EMI, not remove it completely.
                They'll also be the first thing a cheap manufacturer cuts to save on BOM cost.

        • Power Supplies generally won't radiate at 700 MHz. Most power supplies that I've worked with don't radiate much above 30 MHz.

          The GPU is probably the culprit. A Faraday cage should do the job, but every wire entering or leaving the enclosure needs to be EMI filtered.

          • Eh, either way it's not that hard. Buy a metal pet cage or garbage can and snap a ferrite bead on the power cable and network cable.

        • This could really be fixed with aluminum foil and a few ferrite toroids. Of course a nice metal box would be neater and better ventilated.
  • Forget mining Bitcoin, run a micro radio station. The FCC will never notice that.
  • by TJHook3r ( 4699685 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @02:56PM (#56158588)
    Disrupting emergency services, helping global warming, distributing child porn... Is there anything Bitcoin CAN'T do?
  • 700MHz... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @02:58PM (#56158596)
    700 MHz is in the 10s of cm range as far as wavelength. Should be easy to construct some kind of Faraday cage to block the interference (while still allowing for air cooling), with filters on the AC line and Ethernet to prevent them from radiating as antennas.
    • He should invest some of that FAT bitcoin money in a kw linear. They'll be happy when he goes back to just mining.

    • You still need to get wires in and out of that Faraday cage without them acting as antennas and get a proper conductive connection between the plates forming the side walls of the faraday cage. I'm sure that an RF engineer can do that without too much cost; a layman: not so much.

      • Re:700MHz... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @03:50PM (#56158942)

        Plates? Please don't comment about things you don't understand. Openings have to be smaller than the wavelength of the noise being addressed. At 700 MHz easy. Wrap it in chicken wire, solder the edges, ground it, done. Doesn't have to be perfect.

        This isn't antenna design. Anybody who flunked basic physics can build a faraday cage.

        Shoplifters have had this down for years.

        Wires, especially bundled with grounds, longer than a few wavelengths (power cords) or made up of twisted pairs (ethernet cables) make very shitty antennas.

        • I have been surprised how hard it is to make a cellphone lose signal. If I wrap it in aluminum foil and leave a hole big enough to see the wifi and cell signal bars, they barely drop. I'm out of aluminum foil, but my phone in a stainles steel cooking vessel with the metal lid just open far enough (1 mm gap) to see the screen shows 4 out of 5 bars for wifi and cell reception. I can even call my phone with the lid closed and it will ring.

          So, you didn't convince me.

          • by adolf ( 21054 )

            I used to have a small Faraday pouch that was lined with silver-colored conductive fabric. I used it when my employer was tracking me with GPS on my dumb phone, including logging power on/off events. (When I say I'm at lunch, I'm at lunch and that's my business. It's also my business if I've taken a day off.)

            It worked fine, blocking both GPS (easy) and cell signals (less easy).

            I'm not sure what you're doing wrong with your tinfoil pouch, but Faraday cages are pretty well-understood concepts.

            And unlike Shr

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          In fact that's *why* the wires I used to run in cable ducts were twisted. To prevent them from acting as antennas. (I *think* we were more worried about noise reception than transmission, but I just ran the wires, I didn't spec them.)

  • Why would he have radio emissions while running a bitcoin miner?
    • Re:Why (Score:5, Informative)

      by BenFranske ( 646563 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @03:33PM (#56158800) Homepage

      Pretty much anything electronic can create RF emissions. See unintentional and incidental radiators at https://www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/rfd... [fcc.gov]

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        All electronics create radio emissions. It's just that usually, they are too weak, or the wrong frequency, to interfere with anything.

        • A DC battery and a resistor don't...
          • A DC battery and a resistor don't...

            As long as you don't either complete the circuit or break the circuit, yes. However, the act of completing the circuit or breaking the circuit will create a pulse of radio frequency energy when current flow starts or stops.

            73's

            Strat

    • Either poor equipment design, or he modified it in some way. Miners usually have a buck converter inside, those things are awful for noise - they have a high-current square wave, which includes not only the base frequency but every harmonic of it too. There's supposed to be a filter, but if he is running it beyond design power levels that might not be enough.

      • True square waves only have odd-order harmonics present. Rectangular waves are missing harmonics related to the duty cycle, which for a square wave with a 50% duty cycle, means all even-order harmonics are missing. A 25% duty cycle wave will have all fourth-order harmonics missing. But they're still noisy. :-)
    • Why would he have radio emissions while running a bitcoin miner?

      Computers emit a LOT of RF, especially when they are not operated in a shielded box.

    • by hjf ( 703092 )

      I still remember the mid-90s, when 486s and Pentiums ran at 100Mhz. The FM station interference, my god!

  • ...I mean, isn't this one of the FCC's core missions?

    They're not chasing him because he's interfering with T-Mobile per se (and honestly, their mentioning of it was stupid). They're chasing him because his device was generating interference, full stop.

    • by hjf ( 703092 )

      They are not "chasing" anyone. They just gave him a warning. A notice that he was doing something without knowing.
      And T-mobile is part of this. It's them that filed the complaint. The FCC doesn't have a network of antennas all over the country. They work based on complaints from people with registered frequencies. T-mobile most likely noticed this because of some base station picking up some strange noise floor.

      If you run a miner in the middle of nowhere, you won't be visited by the FCC anytime soon.

  • That's the real story. FCC actually paying attention to it's own rules.

    Now if only we can get them to do something about 7.200Mhz.....

    • That's the real story. FCC actually paying attention to it's own rules.

      Now if only we can get them to do something about 7.200Mhz.....

      Yea.. The "man" died who started that AM broadcasting mess down there before they could extract their fines from him. Took them almost 20 years to actually pull his ticket and get him off the air, even after his making a name doing daily broadcasts... Shesh...

      The FCC doesn't have the manpower to fix what ails 7.200Mhz at this point so I guess they are choosing to wait for all the geezers like me to die and vacate the frequencies so they can auction them off for some coin.

  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    Now everyone throw out your cheap CFLs and LED bulbs. You are screwing up my ham radio. Come on, FCC. Where is your van when we need it?

    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      Wait until everyone switches to electric cars, and some of these electric motors start to arcing with age.
    • Now everyone throw out your cheap CFLs and LED bulbs. You are screwing up my ham radio. Come on, FCC. Where is your van when we need it?

      The van got traded in on a Prius that although has great mileage and a ready made power source, emitted too much RF to be able to make any kind of sensitive measurements within 100yards of it.

      Just kidding...

      Actually, the FCC doesn't have the field agents necessary to actually show up and do the monitoring they used to do. The enforcement bureau just doesn't have the people anymore. They might get around to actually doing something about a Ham complaint in about 10 years.... Consider the K1MAN debacle tha

  • "When the interfering device was turned off the interference ceased,"

    It's always that way in these cases.

    I guess the FCC is represented by lawyers from No, Shit & Sherlock.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      I think that that statement was included as definitive evidence that they had identified the correct source of interference. It's not complete proof, but it's as near as you can usually get.

  • There are several plausible sources of 700MHz in such a device. The third harmonic of DDR4 clocked at 233MHz could be an example, or the seventh of something at 100MHz.

    This is basically a bench-top prototype. I LOL at the CE Mark visible on the PCB.

    First, the open enclosure top. Really? The panels are all painted with no way to connect each other electrically. Even if you masked the screw heads from paint, and still have some long seams, it would be a significant improvement at 700MHz.

    Connecting

  • I used to have 6 of these S5's. It didn't interfere with my smartphone even at point blank.
    Btw S5's aren't remotely profitable at the moment so no big loss there.

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