[Cerowrt-devel] Editorial questions for response to the FCC

Rich Brown richb.hanover at gmail.com
Fri Oct 2 10:22:37 EDT 2015


I have screwed up my nerve to take an editorial pass over the document. It has a lot of good information and many useful citations, but it needs focus to be effective.

As I read through (yesterday's) draft of the document and the comments, I came up with observations to confirm and questions that I want to understand before charging ahead.


1) Unfortunately, we are coming to this very late: if I understand the timeline, the FCC proposed these rules a year ago, the comment period for the NPRM closed 2 months ago, and we only got an extra month's extension of the deadline because their computer was going to be down on the original filing date. (Note - that doesn't challenge any of our points' validity, only that we need to be very specific in what we say/ask for.)

2) The FCC will view all this through the lens of "Licensed use has priority for spectrum over unlicensed." That's just the rules. Any effort to say they should change their fundamental process will cause our comments to be disregarded.

3) The *operator* (e.g., homeowner) is responsible for the proper operation of a radio. If the FCC discovers your home router is operating outside its allowed parameters *you* must (immediately?) remediate it or take it off the air.

4) We must clearly and vigorously address the FCC admonishment to "prevent installing DD-WRT"

5) [Opinion] I share dpreed's concern that the current draft overplays our hand, requesting more control/change than the FCC would be willing to allow. See Question 7 below for a possible alternative.


1) What is our request? What actions would we like the FCC to take?

2) How much of a deviation from their current rules (the ones we're commenting on) are we asking them to embrace?

3) How much dust could/should we kick up? For example, is it useful to point out that these FCC rules do not address other practices that are possible today: 
	- Use of high gain antennas (which would certainly introduce a stronger signal than the design parameters); 
	- Use of other (non-commercially produced) SDR transmitters;
	- Malicious attack that takes control of insecure vendor software to alter the RF parameters 
	- Router manufacturers in most cases are already *contractually obliged* to release full source code for their routers (GPL). In the past, many have been resistant to doing so, especially for the RF drivers. Do any concerns of the FCC change if there were to be a full source code release?

4) Footnotes 15, 16, and 17 cite published reports of router vendors using activation codes or new firmware lockdowns where previously not present. Do any readers have personal/verified knowledge of these activities?

5) Vendors certify release X of their firmware in tests with the FCC. It includes the entire binary, including radio control parameters, OS version, web GUI, etc. Do we know anything about whether vendor's X+1 release goes through the same FCC certification process? Or do they just fix a couple bugs and re-release knowing that they haven't touched the RF driver...

6) Vendors are generally do not release source code for the wireless drivers. How likely is it that this reluctance is due to a concern that the vendor could get in trouble with the FCC if people modified that code?

7) Would it be feasible to ask the FCC to require that vendors *publish* the critical parameters/source code for operating in spec, so that responsible software developers can carefully observe those parameters? (We already have code that handles the RF specs for various countries. Could we envision doing the same for each router/model/version radio parameters?)

I'm going to collect your comments for ~24 hours, then start editing. My goal is to have a draft by Monday morning, 5 Oct to refine for the 9 Oct deadline. Thanks!


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