Tuesday, 02 August 2016 10:08

TP-Link to allow third-party firmware on routers

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Networking hardware vendor TP-Link has agreed to allow customers to install open-source firmware on its routers as part of a settlement with the US Federal Communications Commission.

TP-Link admitted it had broken US radio frequency rules by selling routers that could work at power levels higher than the approved limits.

The company paid a fine of US$200,000 and agreed to abide by the rules from now on.

Allowing the installation of open-source firmware was part of TP-Link's settlement with the FCC.

According to FCC rules, manufacturers have to ensure their devices cannot be used in ways that interfere with other wireless signals. The FCC investigation found that TP-Link marketed wireless router models that could be manipulated to operate at a higher power than allowed on certain restricted Wi-Fi channels.

Devices such as routers are certified by the FCC's office of engineering and technology for use on unlicensed wireless spectrum within certain output levels so as to prevent interference with other lawful wireless communications, including those on adjacent spectrum bands.

"The Commission's equipment rules strike a careful balance of spurring innovation while protecting against harmful interference," said Travis LeBlanc, chief of the Enforcement Bureau, in a media release.

"While manufacturers of Wi-Fi routers must ensure reasonable safeguards to protect radio parameters, users are otherwise free to customise their routers and we support TP-Link's commitment to work with the open-source community and Wi-Fi chipset manufacturers to enable third-party firmware on TP-Link routers."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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