Enter the Hinternet

by Rob Flickenger

Hams are fascinating people. They have tremendous command of the art of wireless networking, and are very conscious of their community, and the importance of its place in the world.

Particularly interesting to me is where Hams and their networking efforts interface with the Community Networks agenda of bringing ubiquitous wireless networking to the masses.

The HSMM project seems to be a tremendous leap in a very exciting direction. If Hams and Part 15'ers can leverage each other's experience and resources, all sorts of interesting possibilities open up. Imagine a coordinated effort to use Part 15 networks as client endpoints, and aggregate traffic through high-power (and high profile) Ham repeaters. Of course, we've imagined it before, and have always run up against a couple of basic tenets of Amateur operations that forbid such matter-of-course elements as encryption, commercial traffic, rebroadcasting of music, and even basic unattended third party communications. If the ARRL is behind interconnecting Ham networks with the Internet, then I must have misinterpreted the rules. I certainly hope so, and it's very likely, as I'm still studying for my Technician Class license.

I just wrote to the organizers of HSMM (I'm just dying for more details), and hope to hear back soon...

From: Rob Flickenger
Date: Wed Jan 15, 2003 5:48:12 PM US/Pacific
To: tis@arrl.org
Subject: The "hinternet"

Hi there--

My name is Rob Flickenger. I'm not a Ham (yet) but I am
very active in supporting community wireless networks
that operate under Part 15. In fact, I wrote a book
about it [1] last year for O'Reilly. I found an article
about the "hinternet" [2] on the arrl.org website, and I
am very interested in your project. It sounds like we
have similar, or at least, compatible goals in building
a ubiquitous high speed data network.

I write to you for two reasons. I am looking for a
pointer to more information about your project, as there
are a huge number of questions in the minds of Part 15
networkers. For example, how can Part 97 and Part 15
networks interoperate? How do existing Ham rules about
third party traffic, encryption, and commerce apply to
data transmitted on the hinternet? I have been working
on building Part 15 data networks [3] with many other
like-minded groups [4..8] for a couple of years now,
with considerable success, and more than a little active
interest from local Ham operators.

Secondly, I am currently working on the second edition
of Building Wireless Community Networks, and I would
very much like to include up to date information about
the state of your project. Do you have a mailing list,
website, or other online resource regarding your

I am studying for my first Technician license, and have
been for some time. My barrier to entry has always been
that my real interest is in high-speed Internet traffic,
and as Ham privileges would do relatively little to help
me develop data networks, I haven't given my study the

attention it deserves. If Ham rules have changed in
light of the HSMM project (or, perhaps, if I simply
misinterpret the current rules) then I know many people
who would gladly become Hams. I work with a dedicated
group of people who have been passionately working on
building free access wireless networks for schools, low-
income housing, emergency services, and the general
public. I believe that most, if not all of these goals
are directly in line with the spirit of Ham

I appreciate any and all information you can point me to
that will help us work together for the common good.

Best regards,


[1] http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wirelesscommnet/
[2] http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2003/01/10/3/?nc=1
[3] http://nocat.net/
[4] http://freenetworks.org/
[5] http://seattlewireless.net/
[6] http://nycwireless.net
[7] http://personaltelco.org/
[8] http://bawug.org/

Should Ham networks be able to tie into Part 15 Community Networks (and ultimately, the Internet)?


2003-01-17 11:04:03
Part 15 limitations
Please check what FCC Part 15 says. You say that you can't (legally) use an amplifier, but you can (legally) use a gain antenna. The FCC part 15 restrictions are on effective radiated power (ERP), which is what comes OUT of the antenna. Feeding (for example) 1 watt into an antenna with 30dB gain gives an ERP of 1000 watts.
2003-01-17 14:34:29
Part 15 limitations
You are correct. Under the Part 15 rules that apply to 802.11b, there are specific limitations on both antenna gain and effective radiated power, depending on your application (if you're implementing fixed, point-to-point links, you get a break on antenna gain.)

There's not nearly enough space to get into the intricacies of Part 15 here, but do check out the excellent paper by Tim Pozar of the BAWUG. The rules certainly aren't as clear-cut as "amp or no amp".

2003-01-22 06:33:07
The Hinternet

your understanding of the limitations and responsibilities of operating under Part 97 rules are correct.

The bulletin from The League regarding the Hinternet and its development/deployment using Part 15 devices does nothing to mitigate those restrictions. It would be more akin to a traditional amateur packet radio network - the only difference being that it will be at a usable data rate, not use AX.25 protocols, and still require automatic power control when operating above the one watt power level.

Any interconnection between the Hinternet and the Internet must still ensure that the content and control operator requirements are adhered to. The fact that the Hinternet will probably utilise devices that are manufactured for use under Part 15 unlicensed operation is irrelevant.

Chris, N0UK, G4JEC

2003-05-16 18:40:48
ur ntwrk
vry interesting. keep up the work ... or keep the faith ... or however ud phrase it. WD4KMP, Mike Smith mrmike999@aol.com or WD4KMP@aol.com snail mail P. O. Box 592636, Orlando, Fl., 32859