There always exists a community of modders and tinkerers who like to get more out of their electronic devices, the community creates softwares and applications to suit their needs much of which is widely distributed for free. For example, Android users have long been able to get rid of bloatware and unnecessary features that bog down devices from their smartphones and tablets by flashing custom ROMs like CyanogenMod, but things aren’t looking good for folks who like to run custom software on their routers.
The Federal Communications Commission has reportedly introduced new rules that will ban modification of firmware on devices with radios. The proposed rule only affects devices that operate in the U-NII bands, which is a portion of spectrum used for 5GHz Wi-Fi.
FCC’s proposed rule makes it obligatory for manufacturers of these devices to put adequate software security in place so that the firmware can’t be modified.
If this rule does come into force it would essentially mean that there will be a blanket ban on modification of any and all components inside a router, ruling out the possibility of installing Open Source firmware on routers.
As someone who runs Open Source firmware on a router I can’t say I’m particularly happy about this, and I’m sure many harbor similar sentiments on this issue.