The Federal Communications Commission is considering new restrictions that would make it harder for users to modify Wi-Fi routers, sparking controversy and an apparent misunderstanding over the FCC’s intentions.
The FCC’s stated goal is to make sure routers and other devices only operate within their licensed parameters. Manufacturers release products that are certified to operate at particular frequencies, types of modulation, and power levels but which may actually be capable of operating outside of what they’ve been certified and tested to do.
The extra capabilities can sometimes be unlocked through software updates issued by the manufacturer, or by software made by third parties. Lots of users install open source firmware on routers to get a better user interface and better functionality than what is provided by the vendor, and the wording of the FCC’s proposal has some worried that such software will effectively be outlawed.
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