Back in March 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – a government agency tasked with regulating interstate communications in the United States – issued a security document that included a series of provisions related to the use of wireless devices that operate in the U-NII radio bands.
In essence, the FCC wanted the manufacturers of routers and other networking equipment to provide tightly defined access paths to all wireless transmission devices. Unfortunately, the FCC proposal is likely to result in OEMs locking down the whole firmware of their routers and thus preventing consumers from installing the open source operating system or software of their choice (e.g. OpenWrt or DD-WRT.)
In order to offer a compromise, one solution would be to virtually separate the radio from the base software. This approach allows only authorized entities (e.g. the operators) to make the necessary changes and updates to the critical radio settings specified by the FCC.
Over the last year, the prpl Foundation has been working hard to provide this viable solution that allows networking devices to run open firmware while still complying with the FCC guidelines on Wi-Fi usage.