A bitcoin miner in New York caused interference with T-Mobile's wireless network. angelx77/Pixabay

A resident of New York City was ordered by the the United States Federal Communications Commission to shut down his bitcoin mining rig after it was determined the machine was interfering with T-Mobile’s wireless network.

The order was made after the FCC began receiving complaints from T-Mobile about interference to its wireless network in the Brooklyn, New York area. FCC agents traced the source of the interference to the residence of Victor Rosario.

According to the FCC enforcement bureau, the interference stemmed from Rosario’s Antminer S5 Bitcoin Miner—a mining rig first released in 2014 that was released to help hobbyists and individual miners earn Bitcoin with a budget-friendly machine.

When powered up, the bitcoin miner reportedly produced radio emissions that caused interference with T-Mobile’s 700MHz LTE network —a frequency band that is commonly used for commercial wireless services as well as for public safety communications like first responders.

The FCC determined that when Rosario’s mining machine was turned off, the interference with the network ceased. Because of the issue caused by the mining device, Rosario was ordered to cease using it or risk violating federal laws for interfering with the operation of the mobile network. "Operation shall not resume until the condition causing the harmful interference has been corrected," the FCC said.

According to the FCC, continued interference of a network "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."

What is particularly odd about the case with Rosario’s mining rig is that it’s not clear why exactly the Antminer S5 Bitcoin Miner was generating radio emissions. The FCC did not provide any details about the specific device and its production of spurious emissions.

The FCC also did not take action against all operating Antminer S5 Bitcoin Miners—just the one being operated by Rosario. According to the commission, the Notification of Harmful Interference is not specific to the brand or model of device and “is not meant to suggest or find that all Antminer S5 devices are noncompliant.

"Further, although we are aware that even compliant devices can be modified in a manner that creates harmful interference, we make no finding as to whether this particular device conforms to its original manufacturer's specifications," the FCC said.

It is possible for Bitcoin mining device to be modified by miners in order to increase production, but the FCC did not claim that Rosario made any modifications to the device, which cost $450 when it was first released.