The FCC is once again changing its rules when it comes to governing RF devices for safety reasons. The latest changes come after fellow federal governmental agency the FAA complained about illegally modified router radios interfering with TDWR (terminal doppler weather radio) at airports. In response, the FCC decided to implement new rules that prevented the modification of devices, keeping them within safe RF parameters while still allowing for hobbyists and enthusiasts room to tinker.
The problem manifests itself with routers that feature systems-on-a-chip: these devices’ radios are often indistinguishable from the rest of the hardware. As a result, many technical experts fear that instead of separating the radio from everything else, manufacturers will take the easy path and lock down all the hardware, preventing any modifications. The FCC maintains that this was not its intention, and that it is revising its guidelines to “more accurately reflect our intent in both the U-NII rules as well as our current rulemaking.”