Last Post: May 8, 2010:
So, I have been fighting some battles with wireless interoperability and recently read Gopinath's blog post here: http://www.cwnp.com/index/cwnp_wifi_blog/8825 regarding Wi-Fi certification. I had a thought regarding this. If you take say a wireless NIC or access point for that matter and modify the driver or even use just an open source driver that is not officially supported by the vendor, is that solution then still Wi-Fi certified. And furthermore, with the time to market consideration in the QMS certification process, what are or should wireless device vendors and integrators doing to hedge against their products going out of Wi-Fi certification. I have one vendor telling me that it will be 5 months atleast until I can turn QoS back on. Which incase anyone does not know, 802.11e/WMM must be on for 802.11n. Please give Gopinath's blog post a read, it may be the most edificial and insightful thing you will read all week. Now I will get off my soap box.
Jon, there seem to be several responses back on Gopi's original blog. But I will put in another two cents here.
Technically speaking you would have invalidated the Wi-Fi certification for your device - simply beacause it has not then been qualified by one of the Wi-Fi accredited Test Labs. In and of itself though, no police are going to come knocking on your door to arrest you. And it would be fairly easy to muck up something if you can affect any of the MAC layer processing.
I doubt there is anything you can change software wise, other than the available frequencies, that would mess up the FCC certification. Although if you could change the output power, then that would be another possibilie way to get in trouble. And at least in the U.S. only the FCC, of these three bodies, can bring the heat down on you. Although the FAA may get involved if you start plying with your 5GHz station. We got a visit from our local airport once !
The IEEE has no policing authority, so no matter how much you screw up on their specs (alone) nobody except irate customers, and spectrum neighbors are going to be pissed.
Of course, if you figure out someway to burn out your AP, or otherwise invalidate your warranty, good luck trying to get it replaced by the manufacturer.
And sad to say, but the lack of any power for the IEEE and the WFA (unless you illegaly use their logo), is why you can still find products claiming 802.11 or Wi-FI "Compliant" devices. The compliant means NOTHING, othr than anything the device manufacturer wants it to mean.
Which is one one the reasons, even with its numerous problems discussed elsewhere on these forums, I still recommend only buying Wi-Fi Certified devices.
Interesting, I wonder if the 510(k) requires wifi certification to be interoperable on a wlan?
The FDA definitely has some thoughts about 802.11 Wireless, but I could not find anything, quickly anyway, regarding Wi-Fi certification.
I did find this (draft) FDA document which has some interesting details in it:
Most equipment I come across, usually has a disclaimer with it, either stating it is not for devices that monitor or control life saving devices - or it will say that you need to contact a particular division of the company to identify acceptable devices.
Hmm, so this means that if I load dd-wrt on my linksys Wi-Fi certified router it immediately becomes no longer certified then? Not really surprising I guess. I do wonder though, if the WFA actually does any testing of open source drivers, routers, etc.
I really doubt it. Who would pay for the testing? You got a spare $25K+ sitting around?
Remember just to get it tested, you have to be a WFA member.
They, or one of their test labs, might just to prove to themselves one way or the other whether dd-wrt could meet their requirements - but even if it passed, it would only count for that specific unit.