New FCC Rules May Impact Linux-Based Devices

New U.S. regulations could change how vendors of devices with software-defined radios use open-source software. The new rules could impact manufacturers of mobile phones, Wi-Fi cards and other devices that use SDR technologies.

New U.S. regulations went into effect July 6 that could change how vendors of devices with software-defined radios use open-source software. The new rules could impact manufacturers of mobile phones, Wi-Fi cards and other devices that use SDR technologies.

SDR technologies are commonly used in todays mobile phones and Wi-Fi equipment. The U.S. Federal Communications Commissions new regulations are apparently aimed at ensuring that users of such equipment cannot access source code needed to reprogram it—for example, to output more power, or operate on inappropriate frequencies, either of which could conceivably endanger public safety.

A summary document published by the FCC suggests that the new regulations were actually proposed by Cisco, a vendor of wireless cards and other networking equipment. The summary document suggests that because of the new rules, SDR device vendors who use open-source software in certain capacities could face challenges getting FCC approval.

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