FCC Reaches Settlement With TP-Link Following Investigation into Noncompliant Wi-Fi Routers

TP-Link marketed wireless routers in the U.S. that could be manipulated to operate at a higher power Level than allowed by FCC rules

FCC Reaches Settlement With TP-Link Following Investigation into Noncompliant Wi-Fi Routers
Image: Pixabay
August 2, 2016

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reached a $200,000 settlement with TP-Link, resolving an investigation into certain Wi-Fi routers that were not in full compliance with FCC rules pertaining to power levels.

As part of the settlement, the Bureau says that 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 FCC's 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 wireless router models in the U.S. that could be manipulated to operate at a higher power than allowed on certain restricted Wi-Fi channels. To resolve the matter, TP-Link has taken measures to halt the sale of noncompliant units and ensure that new units are in compliance.

The Enforcement Bureau says that TP-Link cooperated with its investigation and, as part of the settlement, has agreed to pay a $200,000 fine and implement a compliance program to ensure future compliance with FCC rules and regulations. TP-Link will also remove any noncompliant products from the U.S. marketplace and offer an updated user-downloadable version of software on its website so that affected consumers 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 FCC's security requirements and maintaining the integrity of critical radio parameters.

Under FCC rules, devices such as routers are certified by the Commission'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.