What's new

FCC locks down router firmware

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
This goes back a ways, but this was my concern with the proposed rule and order, that some vendors would just lock the boot loader and be done with it - seems like, based on reports, this is what happened with the vendor named...

Funny that this happened right around the time that the Raspberry PI 3 is being released with on-board WiFi/BT-LE.

What a mess... FCC gives and takes - more 5GHz spectrum, but...
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Statement from TP-LINK:
TP-LINK is complying with new FCC regulations that require manufacturers to prevent certain firmware customizations on wireless routers. The FCC requires all manufacturers to prevent users from having any direct ability to change RF parameters (frequency limits, output power, country codes, etc.). In order to keep our products compliant with these implemented regulations, TP-LINK is distributing devices that feature country-specific firmware. Devices sold in the United States will have firmware and wireless settings that ensure compliance with local laws and regulations related to transmission power.

As a result of these necessary changes, users are not able to flash the current generation of open-source, third-party firmware. We are excited to see the creative ways members of the open-source community update the new firmware to meet their needs. However, TP-LINK does not offer any guarantees or technical support for customers attempting to flash any third-party firmware to their devices.

The FCC regulation affects routers marketed and sold in the U.S.

We are in the process of updating our support site with this information.
 

evh909

Regular Contributor
Seems like the concern is mainly over 5ghz band, and rather than work to meet the FCC requirements it is more cost effective to simply lock down the firmware. Following the pipermail thread to the end and reading the user comments in the original post was interesting. In the end, there will be ways around this, seems like there is already a way to bypass the tp-link already. Just more background below if anyone is interested.

Here is a link to the revised FCC document:
https://apps.fcc.gov/kdb/GetAttachm... Device Security v01r03&tracking_number=39498

Here are a couple of ARS links about the story from last year:
https://www.google.com/url?q=http:/...ds-cse&usg=AFQjCNEJlFTVZQeI0F3Nzq4Ccq4VuE3AMw

https://www.google.com/url?q=http:/...ds-cse&usg=AFQjCNHRghPkzGIZUPbq2wtuv-8g-X9vxQ

https://www.google.com/url?q=http:/...ds-cse&usg=AFQjCNFCtF9nYv-OrwcHd_PWSNo4ZcQb4A
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Statement from TP-LINK:

As a result of these necessary changes, users are not able to flash the current generation of open-source, third-party firmware. We are excited to see the creative ways members of the open-source community update the new firmware to meet their needs.
These two sentences don't even make any sense when put together... Marketing speech at its best :(
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
And yet another reason for me to never recommend TP-Link to anyone.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
TP-LINK, and I'm sure other manufacturers, will make a business decision about this. It comes down to how much product sales will be affected by not having the ability to load alternative firmware.

TP-LINK, at least for now, is saying it's not worth the effort to only prevent messing with 5 GHz band router RF parameters, which is the only thing FCC is mandating.
 

charlie2alpha

Senior Member
It's up to the buyers to make an educated decision. I made mine when I bought my ASUS router. My experiences with TP-Link products are negative in general, so I decided long ago to stay away from them. Their decision to lock down their routers just adds another nail in their coffin as far I'm concerned.
 
Last edited:

MikeF

New Around Here
I saw this coming last year and went with a Ubiquiti Edgerouter X wired only router and used my old Linksys router for an WAP only.
It is unlikely that many consumer router vendors will go to the trouble to lock down only the RF related firmware in order to permit alternative firmware for the other functions. IMO the FCC went a little overboard with their requirements.
The other downside is that there are very few alternatives for inexpensive consumer grade dual band WAPs at this time; you may have to buy a wireless router, disable the unused functions if possible and connect to the LAN port (see SNB tutorial). Likewise, decent performing wired only routers are scarce and overprice features like VPN support.
I've had bad luck with ASUS routers. but they will be interesting to watch due to the recent FTC settlement. They have swung back and forth on 'open source' firmware support, hopefully they will continue to 'work with' the Merlin developer.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
These two sentences don't even make any sense when put together...
Going back to earlier discussions - locked boot loader - which is the path that TP-Link seems to be taking vs. signed wireless drivers...

Neither of which is a good outcome... I understand TP-Link's perspective in reaction to recent FCC/EU rules...
 

charlie2alpha

Senior Member
Going back to earlier discussions - locked boot loader - which is the path that TP-Link seems to be taking vs. signed wireless drivers...

Neither of which is a good outcome... I understand TP-Link's perspective in reaction to recent FCC/EU rules...
Neither is good, but we will choose the less of the two evils. I'll take a locked wireless driver any day over a locked bootloader.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev

Latest threads

Sign Up For SNBForums Daily Digest

Get an update of what's new every day delivered to your mailbox. Sign up here!
Top