We have ath, now what about Broadcom?

Kevin Oberman oberman at es.net
Wed Jul 23 15:30:10 PDT 2003

> From: "Matthew Emmerton" <matt at compar.com>
> Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003 18:21:23 -0400
> > The folks at Broadcom have not been willing to release any information
> > on their 800.11g chips for fear of violating FCC regs. The required
> > NDA would prohibit the release of the source. You can program
> > both the transmit power and frequency if you have this. (I make no
> > claim as to whether their concerns have any validity.)
> >
> > For that reason there has been no open-source support for these chips.
> Why would Broadcom be scared?  Obviously it's the _driver_ that controls the
> power/freq output of the chip, so the responsibility of staying within FCC
> regs is that of the driver authors.  Of course, the "no warranty" aspects of
> open source drivers turns a blind eye to liability, but would things really
> come back to Broadcom?

The logic is simple. the FCC hold the manufacturer responsible for
improper RF from any product. The Broadcom chip makes it easy to
generate illegal RF if you know where to poke. 

They don't care about a driver doing the right thing. They worry that,
should the information become public, they can be held in violation as
the manufacturer if someone uses that information to move the output
to another frequency. Broadcom uses the secrecy of this information to
claim compliance and without it, they could not make the chip.

Once again, IANAL and I can't speak to the validity of this.
R. Kevin Oberman, Network Engineer
Energy Sciences Network (ESnet)
Ernest O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)
E-mail: oberman at es.net			Phone: +1 510 486-8634

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