Linksys Defies FCC by Releasing New Open Source WRT Router
Ashley Allen / 4 years ago
Linksys has unveiled a new DRT router, the WRT1900ACS, designed to run open source software, despite the US Federal Trade Commission making the practice illegal from 2nd June onwards. The FCC legislation seeks to limit user modification of internet routers, and an effect of that policy is that popular router modding software – such as DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and Tomato – has been outlawed for use with new routers.
“They’re named WRT… it’s almost our responsibility to the open source community,” Vince La Duca, Linksys’ Router Product Manager, told Ars Technica.
One of the concerns that the FCC has with router modding is that the tweaks risk interfering with FAA Doppler weather radar systems, which use the same 5GHz band as many modern routers. Most models include dynamic frequency selection (DFS) in order to combat interference, but open-source firmware can allow users to disable this function. According to the FCC, modded routers are a “major cause of harmful interference” caused by “devices that have been modified to operate in frequency bands in which they are not certified to operate.”
However, Linksys claims that it has managed to compensate for the FCC’s interference fears. “The hardware design of the WRT platform allows us to isolate the RF parameter data and secure it outside of the host firmware separately,” a Linksys spokesperson said.
How this move will be viewed by the FCC remains to be seen, but Linksys remains committed to serving the WRT community.
“The real benefit of open source is not breaking the rules and doing something with malicious intent, the value of open source is being able to customize your router, to be able to do privacy browsing through Tor, being able to build an OpenVPN client, being able to strip down the firmware to do super lean, low-latency gaming,” La Duca said. “It’s not about ‘I’m going to go get OpenWRT to go and piss off the FCC.’ It’s about what you can do in expanding the capabilities of what we ship with.”
TP-Link has already admitted that it is “limiting the functionality of its routers” to comply with the FCC.