As someone who helped put together one of the biggest filings with the FCC on this matter, with 260+ other people...
(in addition to 1300? 1700? filings from other orgs)
And later met in person with many of the top people there:
I am inclined to put this result in the "win" column, provisionally.
June 2 came and went, tp-link's router firmware returned to field upgradable, and other manufacturers did nothing to make flashing other firmwares any harder than it already was. Hopefully, our arguments buttressed the legal case ongoing at the time against tplink (I knew there was one, but not against whom, or over what, I hope to get more details).
This does not mean the war is won, however. Certainly binary blob firmware that completely controls the radio remains a problem - but progress is being made with the very thin firmware in the 802.11ac mt76 chipset, I am not aware of 5ghz ath9k chips requiring blobs, and other binary only firmwares are improving to support APIs that fq_codel on wifi needs.
(Recently a few new *major* chipsets had wifi drivers submitted to the linux kernel, but I haven't looked at what, exactly the firmware controls. The state of most wifi drivers and firmware is thoroughly depressing - and a very smart and fast co-processor is seemingly needed to run at very high rates)
Five things I learned from this exercise:
1) If a legalistic solution can be vague, it will be. It then can be spun many ways for many audiences. Read Ed Bernays.
Still, sometimes what is said publicly, continues to matter, and the FCC has said some very nice things.
2) The FCC was not the enemy, but a harried organization attempting to fulfill its mandates. As minimally outlined, their problem was the FAA complaining about wifi interference with weather radars. The first solution was overbroad. They have a much better understanding of the roles of open source, third party firmware now - after the keruffle - of the usefulness of user control, better security, and more frequent updates.
The FCC has WAY bigger problems than linux wifi. The number of wireless capable devices requiring certification and testing is skyrocketing, among other things.
https://twitter.com/FCC is a good source for the FCC's other concerns.
3) If you really want attention in D.C., it is a good idea to make a good argument, with a lot of well known people, file it somewhere inside the agency's process, and then issue (buy) a press release, and make the biggest stink you can.
As it turned out many of the recommendations we made above cannot be implemented inside the FCC's mandates, but the FTCs.
4) Chipmakers can now no longer hide behind an argument that the FCC will not let them open up their firmware.
5) The best "proof of the pudding" I can think of would be to push through a new product with much more or entirely open wifi firmware through the FCC processes, using the CRDA library to enforce the rules. Lining up a vendor willing to try that has so far not happened, although I expected a few mt76 chipsets to enter the US by now, I have not been actively watching their RSS feed for progress.
All in all, honestly, I do think we moved the dial a few notches in the right direction, and I'm going to sleep pretty well tonight.
You had mail, but the super-user read it, and deleted it!