At the end of May, a group of Brazilians made the news around the world by publicizing the realization of an extremely unusual (and difficult) experiment: they sent the bitcoin cryptocurrency (BTC) to the Moon through a radio transmission, and then received the amount back at another location by reflecting the signal on the lunar surface. However, it seems that they got into a series of regulatory problems with Anatel, being questioned about the legality and veracity of their acts by LABRE (Liga de Amadores Brasileiros de Radio Emissão).
The Satoshi.Radio.Br project was created by a team of Brazilians led by Márcio Gandra. According to its official website, its intention is to transmit bitcoin (BTC) over radio waves, using amateur radio equipment. The group carried out its experiment in April, claiming that it was able to send the equivalent of R$50 in BTC to the Moon and receive it back at another terminal, using Earth’s natural satellite as a reflector.
Group would have “overcomed Elon Musk” by sending BTC to the Moon
This technology is called moon-bounce, created by the British military in the 1940s to allow the propagation of radio waves to the Moon, whose surface reflects them back to Earth. Thus, the group of Brazilians used this technique to transmit a hexadecimal code from a file used for bitcoin transactions, which was received and signed elsewhere, completing the movement of cryptographic funds. While the transmitter was in Macacos, Minas Gerais, the receiver was 800km away in Belo Horizonte.
The entire process would have taken about 25 minutes, supported by morse code submissions as it is the simplest communication method for the experiment. In addition, the equipment used is considered basic in amateur radio, emitting frequencies at a power below the ideal for an undertaking of this level. Even so, the group confirms that they were successful in their experiment, “becoming Elon Musk” by being the first to send bitcoin to the Moon.
However, in mid-June, LABRE spoke about what had happened, highlighting regulatory problems at international levels related to a financial transaction carried out over radio waves. The practice is completely prohibited by Anatel, and, in addition, Márcio Gandra, the leader of the experiment, would not be properly qualified to handle the equipment used.
However, LABRE’s observations extend to another important point. According to calculations made by the entity, Gandra’s experiment would be scientifically unfeasible. The equipment shown in the images published on Satoshi.Radio.Br would also be far from being able to complete the task.
LABRE sees serious regulatory problems
In an interview with Techblog, the president of LABRE Marcone Cerqueira, the vice president Roberto Pereira and Alisson Teles Cavalcanti, a radio amateur and one of those responsible for communication at the entity, commented on the case.
The main point highlighted by the organization was the financial nature of the experiment carried out by Gandra’s team. According to Roberto Pereira, the practice is completely banned by Anatel, regardless of whether bitcoin is considered a currency in Brazil or not. “We, as an association and entity, had an obligation to take a stand on the legislation,” said Cerqueira.
Another dangerous regulatory point highlighted by Cavalcanti is that Gandra and his project have already indicated that they intend to expand the practice by using satellites dedicated to amateur radio. He explained that CubeSats microsatellites are used under authorization from Anatel for amateur radio stations to operate.
However, according to Cavalcanti, the practice of sending cryptocurrencies over radio waves would set a dangerous precedent that could even generate sanctions on Brazil for the use of these satellites, which has already happened in the past. This equipment is sent by other countries, which authorize its use by Brazilian radio amateurs, but not for commercial or financial purposes.
Roberto Pereira reiterated that LABRE has already received messages from other foreign organizations, questioning the entity’s position on the news that had repercussions in the international media, especially among broadcasters.
In addition, LABRE spokespersons recalled that Márcio Gandra claimed to have the COER (Amateur Radio Station Operator Certificate), which would enable him to operate an amateur radio station. However, the organization said that he did not reveal his license nor was any record of his name found.
To operate the equipment Gandra says he used, he would also need to register the device. Pereira compared it to a vehicle registration document. “Even if he actually has the COER, he would still be driving an unregulated car,” he explained.
Under the disclosed conditions, experiment would be impossible
In addition to all the legal issues, Gandra’s experiment raised numerous scientific questions as well. With the technical information disclosed by the group of Brazilians, LABRE understands that transmission would be impossible. In Pereira’s opinion, the equipment shown in the photos is far from having the necessary power to accomplish something so ambitious.
Cerqueira also explained that, traditionally, the moon-bounce effect would be performed with much more powerful equipment, and that if Gandra and his team replicated a transmission of that level with the antenna shown, it would likely melt and the experiment would become dangerous for everyone to use. around the device. LABRE also released calculations that show that sending and receiving bitcoin by lunar reflection of radio waves, under the disclosed conditions, would be unfeasible.
“We, at LABRE, encourage experience and study in amateur radio, but within the rules and norms established by Anatel. If everything was within the regulations, we would even stand beside him to help with the experiment”, concluded Cerqueira.
O Techblog contacted the Satoshi.Radio.Br project, seeking a position on the issue. Márcio Gandra, leader of the project, replied: “Due to the complaint filed by them (LABRE) at Anatel, we are not authorized to provide additional clarifications. I hope, soon, to be able to talk openly about the feat that, contrary to what they tried to do with us, makes us very proud”.