Forbidding Standardization

The FCC tests radio equipement to assure they conform to the regulations.  This is to keep your neighbor’s wifi, CB radio, baby monitor, etc. from conflicting with yours.  They worry.  They worry that the consumer will modify the equipment.  In my neighborhood I’ve got neighbors like that.  So the FCC has instructed manufactures to make it hard to modify the equipment, for example it is should be hard to modify the antenna on your wifi hub.  They say that the devices should be  “designed to ensure that no antenna other than that furnished by the responsible party shall be used with the device.”

I’m inordinately  fascinated  by connectors and their standardization.  For example I love the story of how, to avoid construction workers stealing lightbulbs, they bought non-standard lightbulbs that screwed in backwards during the construction of the old World Trade Center in NY, for more examples see  this posting.

While it is common to see that kind of behavior from vendors, for example Apple’s pentolobular  screws  and the complementary asymetrical screw hoax, I’m delighted to see an example from a regulatory agency.

Just and FYI – I do not consider standardization to be an unalloyed good.  The lack of standardization is one way to keep economy’s of scale under control; which in turn helps to avoid concentration of power and wealth.

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