TP-Link fined $200,000 for breaking WiFi rules

TP-Link is to pay a $200,000 fine to America’s broadband regulator, the FCC.

The company admitted yesterday that it broke US rules on radio frequency use, by providing a setting in its Wi-Fi kit to boost the power output beyond the FCC’s limits.

The setting would effectively trick the router into thinking it was not in the US and unlock an extra boost in the 2.4GHz space. This directly goes against FCC rules, reports the Register.

When the FCC confronted TP-Link, the company pulled several router models from sale in the US, blocked the installation of custom firmware on its routers and sent out software updates to disable the boost.

TP-Link has opted to disable all custom firmware, which has drawn criticism from some users.

FCC enforcement bureau chief Travis LeBlanc said of the settlement: "The commission’s equipment rules strike a careful balance of spurring innovation while protecting against harmful interference. 

"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."

TP-Link will have two years to bring all of its 5GHz Wi-Fi products sold and marketed in the US into compliance with the settlement. This means that users will be allowed to install custom firmware, with protections in place to prevent any tampering with the radio’s broadcasting parameters.

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