The Bitcoin network experienced its longest block interval of the year on Sunday, as it took more than two hours to produce a new block.
According to data from Mempool, a website that tracks Bitcoin transactions, the network had a block interval of 122 minutes between block heights 824717 and 824718 at 13:51-15:53 UTC+8 on January 7. This means that no transactions were confirmed during that period, resulting in a backlog of unconfirmed transactions and higher fees for users.
10 Minutes Block Time
The average time between blocks on the Bitcoin network is supposed to be 10 minutes, but it can vary depending on the network’s hash rate, difficulty adjustment, and random factors. The network adjusts its difficulty every 2016 blocks, or roughly every two weeks, to maintain the 10-minute target.
The last time the Bitcoin network had such a long block interval was on June 27, 2021, when it took 119 minutes to produce a new block. That was during a period of low hash rate and high difficulty, caused by the crackdown on Bitcoin mining in China. The network also experienced a 113-minute block interval on April 3, 2021.
20,000 Transactions Waiting to be Confirmed at the Block Time
The reason for the latest block interval is unclear, but some possible factors include a drop in hash rate or a spike in transactions. The network’s hash rate has been relatively stable in recent weeks, hovering around 150 exahashes per second. The number of transactions in the mempool also did not seem unusually high, with about 20,000 transactions waiting to be confirmed at the time of the block.
The long block interval did not have a significant impact on the price of Bitcoin, which remained above $40,000 on Friday. However, it did cause some inconvenience and frustration for users who had to wait longer for their transactions to be confirmed or pay higher fees to get priority.
The Bitcoin network is expected to undergo its next difficulty adjustment on January 9, which will lower the difficulty by about 1.5%. This should make it easier for miners to find new blocks and reduce the block intervals to the normal range.