[Battlemesh] IEEE magazine on FCC lockdown

William xillia at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 20 16:45:56 CEST 2016

Hello Simon et al,
Interestingly, I sent you an email many months ago asking for a quote for my article. It was probably lost in the mix. I would love to print a follow on piece. We always look for articles, we are print, therefore it is a nine month cycle. Normally, I only get one or two comments from my articles. It is kinda of cool to get so much interest.
(Typing on my phone) 
I would love a voice chat with you or the group. I can setup a conference call.

Will Lumpkins
Sr. Member IEEE
IEEE Consumer Electronics Society Magazine Senior Editor

> On Apr 20, 2016, at 9:36 AM, Simon Wunderlich <sw at simonwunderlich.de> wrote:
> Hi Leonardo,
>> On Wednesday 20 April 2016 16:01:43 leonardo wrote:
>> [...]
>>> And his statement "FCC is calling out in FCC 14-30 is the “firmware”
>>> that is
>>> located inside the radio chip or application-specific integrated
>>> circuit" is
>>> rather controversial because they used the term "DD-WRT" (which is a
>>> device
>>> firmware and not a wifi chip firmware) earlier in their
>>> questionnaire. It was
>>> most likely not their intent but they made it really hard not to
>>> interpret it
>>> this way. And right now, WiFi firmware chip versions can still be
>>> replaced and
>>> mostly only hindered the lawful use of the devices (e.g. in mesh
>>> networks with
>>> ath10k). I don't know (but could easily be wrong) of any widely
>>> deployed wifi
>>> chip used in community networks which uses some kind of cryptographic
>>> mechanism which would stop anyone from installing a hacked wifi chip
>>> firmware
>>> (and wifi chip firmware only). But even when it doesn't exist now -
>>> maybe this
>>> will come and thus confirm his standpoint.
>> This is the point that i wanted to discuss. There is this line of
>> interpretation that says "intentions of FCC are good, implementation is
>> wrong". Where:
>> - intentions means: "lock down frequency/powerlevel/DFS..." in the
>> Radio chip to use the unlicensed spectrum as FCC mandates.
>> - implementations is what Simon said in the other email: since vendors
>> like tp-link today can not simply enforce the lockdown on the radio
>> -only, they locked everything to stay on the market.
>> Now let's say that tomorrow technology X allows to lock down radio
>> firmware. Do we like it or not? would this be a reasonable trade-off to
>> preserve our ability to reflash the OS in the device? in the
>> bufferbloat-FCC-discuss ML it seems the answer is a big NO, I'd like
>> to know how this ML feels.
> We haven't seen this yet, so this is a more a theoretical question. 
> Practically, what we see today e.g. in ath10k is a big firmware which has all 
> sorts of limitations (no ad-hoc support, limited amount of peers, closed 
> source).
> Also, these firmwares are actually uploaded from the host (i.e. the router 
> firmware), and therefore can easily be replaced.
> Personally, I wouldn't mind a firmware which just locks the radio stuff (and 
> ONLY the radio) so we can get some peace in this discussion. But from the past 
> experience, vendors tend to put all kind of things into the firmware instead 
> of making it small.
>> Concretely, since in Europe we have the ongoing similar problem, should
>> we go to our governments and convince them that they should apply a
>> "lock the radio" implementation of the Radio Directive?
> No, because vendors will not practically implement that - at least as far as I 
> see. And if they don't implement minimal firmware with locking, we are back to 
> the previous problem and AP vendors will just default to lock the whole 
> firmware.
>>> We will not start to being happy and praise the new FCC requirements
>>> but I
>>> think he has the rights to point out the intentions we may (or may
>>> not) have
>>> missed. But at least for me it was nothing new which wasn't written
>>> already at
>>> many other articles.
>> We also have the rights to tell IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine our
>> opinion, if we want. We can ask the editors (among them there is also
>> the author of the piece) if they are interested in a 2-pages paper
>> stating the point of view of the community.
> Sure, if you want to work on that, feel free to do so. :)
> Cheers,
>     Simon

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