FCC Settles WiFi Router Power Investigation

The FCC's Enforcement Bureau has reached a settlement in its investigation of WiFi routers from TP-Link.

The FCC was investigating allegations that its routers were not in "full compliance" with FCC rules on power levels that prevent against adjacent-channel interference.

TP-Link admitted as part of the settlement that it shipped to the U.S. routers that allowed users to set them at higher power than allowed by changing the country code setting. It has agreed to remove the settings and take reasonable measures to prevent users from unauthorized operation at the higher power.

TP-Link has agreed to pay a $200,000 civil penalty, adopt a "robust" compliance regime to insure its routers meet FCC standards, and will also work with open source developers and chipset manufacturers to allow consumers to install third-party firmware on the routers.

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

The FCC said that its investigation concluded that TP-Link marketed some router models in the U.S. that included a setting that violated its rules by exceeding power limits.

"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 said. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.