Netgear Files FCC Complaint, Sues Asus

Carl Weinschenk

Keep an eye on the nasty fight that has broken out between Netgear and Asus regarding the latter’s new Wi-Fi router.

Several sites reported late last week that Netgear filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission and a lawsuit alleging that Asus’ RT-N65U and RT-AC66U 802.11n and 802.11ac routers, respectively, don’t follow FCC regulations. The suit claims that Asus either filed false test results or modified the equipment to transmit with more power.

Netgear is not being shy about what it is saying publicly about its competitor. That raises the possibility that the marketing department is, to some degree, involved. By the same token, however, Netgear said that it can’t be exactly sure what it is accusing Asus of doing.

It can only surmise what is going on, according to an article at PCWorld. The story quotes Sandeep Harpalani, Netgear’s director of product marketing for core networking:

Netgear’s Harpalani said that his company complained to Asus directly about this matter earlier in the year, and that Asus failed to respond satisfactorily. According to Harpalani, Netgear discovered that Asus was cheating when it acquired sample Asus routers from retailers and conducted some of its own tests. ‘But we cannot do the complete FCC test,’ he said, ‘because the power-output levels have to mimic a client. You have to enable a special mode in the firmware that allows this. It cannot be enabled in the shipping firmware.’

SmallNetBuilder has more specifics on the remedies being sought by Netgear. The suit was filed on July 23 in the United States District Court in Northern California.

PCMag said that Netgear claimed to have submitted commercial versions of the routers to an independent lab and came up with the results that led to the actions:

For example, one test result states that while an output level of 23.92 dBm at Channel 1 was submitted to the FCC by Asus, the third-party lab actually tested the output level at 34.24 dBm—10.23 dB higher than reported. Similar results were found testing on different channels with both Asus routers. In the lawsuit, Netgear accuses Asus of representing measurements that were ‘false and fraudulent.’

The accusations are serious. If true, they flaunt FCC test regimens and could create interference with other equipment, including baby monitors and emergency response gear, PCMag says. If only partially true or completely false, the accusations could lead to legal action by Asus against Netgear.

There was no response from Asus as of the end of last week. Neither company mentioned the situation on its website.

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