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TP-Link To Pay Up In Wi-Fi Router Settlement With FCC

FCC Reaches $200,000 Settlement With TP-Link In Wi-Fi Router Investigation

The FCC today announced that it has reached a Wi-Fi router investigation settlement with TP-Link in which the company will pay 200,000 dollars and work with the open-source community and Wi-Fi chipset manufacturers to enable third party firmware on Wi-Fi routers

The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau has reached a $200,000 settlement with TP-Link, resolving an investigation into certain Wi-Fi routers that were not in full compliance with Commission rules pertaining to power levels.  As part of the settlement, TP-Link has agreed to adopt robust compliance measures to ensure that its existing and future Wi-Fi routers are in compliance.  TP-Link has also agreed to work with the open-source community and Wi-Fi chipset manufacturers to enable consumers to install third-party firmware on their Wi-Fi routers.

 “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.  “While manufacturers of Wi-Fi routers must ensure reasonable safeguards to protect radio parameters, users are otherwise free to customize 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.” 

In its investigation, the Enforcement Bureau found that TP-Link marketed several Wi-Fi router models in the U.S. that included a user setting that violated Section 15.15(b) of the Commission’s rules by enabling the routers to operate at power levels that exceed their approved parameters on certain restricted Wi-Fi channels.  To resolve the matter, TP-Link has taken measures to halt the sale of non-compliant units and ensure that new units are in compliance.  

TP-Link cooperated with the Bureau’s investigation and, as part of the consent decree, has agreed to pay a $200,000 fine and implement a compliance program to ensure future compliance with the Commission’s rules and regulations.  In particular, TP-Link will institute processes to ensure that products imported or marketed in the U.S. are in compliance with the FCC’s rules, remove any noncompliant products from the U.S. marketplace and offer an updated user-downloadable version of software on its website so that affected users can bring their Wi-Fi router into compliance. 


TP-Link has also agreed to take steps to support innovation in third-party router firmware by committing to investigate security solutions for certain 5 GHz band routers that would permit the use of third-party firmware while meeting the Commission’s security requirements and maintaining the integrity of critical radio parameters. 

Under Commission rules, 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.  Manufacturers of approved devices have a responsibility to ensure their devices cannot be used in ways that interfere with other wireless signals.  The Enforcement Bureau’s 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. 

Source: FCC release


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