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TP-Link routers to support open source firmware after FCC settlement

By Scorpus ยท 4 replies
Aug 2, 2016
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  1. TP-Link has admitted that some of its routers violated FCC rules by including settings that could push power output levels higher than approved limits. The company has settled the matter with the FCC, and part of their agreed penalty includes allowing the installation of open source firmware on their routers.

    This settlement provision is rather unique. The FCC doesn't require router manufacturers to allow the installation of open source firmware, however manufacturers can choose to support third-party firmware so long as they restrict this firmware's capabilities. For example, open source firmware shouldn't be able to change the frequency or power outputs to values that would violate FCC regulations.

    According to the settlement, TP-Link will work with the open source community and chipset manufacturers to allow the installation of third-party firmware on TP-Link routers. The company will research and employ security methods to keep this firmware within FCC rules, and in exchange, TP-Link will not face further penalties for their rule violations.

    The actual rules TP-Link violated don't relate to open source firmware. TP-Link was selling routers that included a setting which allowed users to change their country code. The byproduct of changing the setting, in some circumstances, was power output on the 2.4 GHz band that exceeded United States limits.

    TP-Link admitted they violated the rules, halted all sales of devices that included this setting, and issued a software update for devices in the wild. Along with allowing third party firmware, TP-Link also agreed to a $200,00 fine, and will comply with all FCC rules and regulations going forward.

    Permalink to story.

  2. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe Banned Posts: 837   +441

    Ouch !
  3. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,438   +601

    200k fine to a large company like this is nothing!

    Should have been 2 million at least.
  4. h4expo

    h4expo TS Enthusiast Posts: 47   +8

    Oh that is such BS. Does anyone realize whats going on here? The FCC is strong-arming TP-link into steering (with corporate influence) the open source software to meet the FCC's demands by reducing its functionality and feature set and controlling how the software is used.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,687   +3,841

    I realize this is going to be a very exaggerated analogy, but one upon a time, "citizen's band" , limited to 5 watts in the US, had thousands of psychopaths running around with 1000 watt linear amplifiers in the trunks of their cars hooked up to CB radios.

    Output limits are set for very specific reasons, and that is to avoid interference with other devices in proximity to it. Now, every device today has components that operate at a frequency range which makes transmission possible.
    When I turn on one desktop, it knocks out the tuner in the desktop sitting right next to it.

    Digital OTA TV, is in large part brought on by the inability to receive analog transmissions without interference. The crud and noise being picked up in the signals made trying to watch certain channels an unpleasant experience.

    So, the FCC doesn't "capriciously" set power output levels. It's done to promote compatibility in the very crowded EM environment which exist today.

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