What We Do
We encourage and support research regarding amateur radio computer networking and related topics.
Amateur radio operators who wish to research and experiment with tcp/ip networking need network space — IP addresses. We have a large IPv4 network space, 188.8.131.52/8, portions of which we assign to qualified amateur radio researchers and experimenters around the world, without charge. Our doing so enables researchers to experiment with actual networks in a way that is not practical on the commercial Internet.
Additionally, we promote scientific research into new protocols, mechanisms, and techniques for radio-based (“wireless”) networking, with particular emphasis on the Amateur Radio environment.
Experimenters are encouraged to interact and share their results and conclusions. Our primary mechanism for interaction is the 44net working group mailing list. We also publish papers, tutorials, and articles on our web site and wiki. We plan to sponsor seminars and workshops on Amateur Radio tcp/ip networking.
What We Don’t Do
We don’t charge for our services. We exist solely on the generosity of contributors.
We’re not an Internet service provider. We don’t supply network services nor connectivity to the Internet; those are up to each client to arrange for themselves. Typically folks connect via another ham or contract with an established ISP such as a cable company or DSL provider.
We don’t sell addresses; you might consider an AMPRNet allocation to be in the nature of an extended loan of IP space.
How It Works
Generally the AMPRNet allocations are blocks of addresses that are assigned to hams who are interested in radio networks. Blocks can be small, even a single address, but more typically are subnets of 256 addresses, which is plenty for most ham communities. There can also be larger allocations for larger networks.
There are several ways to use the AMPRNet addresses that we have available.
Around the world there are hams and ham radio organizations who have established local subnets that they make available to other hams over various kinds of radio links. In countries where it is permitted, some provide access to the Internet. With their permission, you can join their part of the network.
In the absence of radio links, it’s possible to route via point-to-point tunnels through the Internet. These route to each other forming a mesh. Each tunnel gateway router operator has a subnet allocated to his tunnel router. Via a list of the other tunnels with which they can connect, they route traffic for the other tunneled subnets over those tunnels. A tunnel gateway may also provide connectivity to the commodity Internet.
These tunnels work similarly to VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) except those are typically encrypted and AMPRNet tunnels usually aren’t.
Hams and ham organizations that are technically qualified may be able to arrange, with prior approval from us, for peering with an Internet Service Provider for an allocated subnet of the AMPRNet, thus obtaining a direct connection to the Internet. (Typically there is a charge from the ISP for this service.) These subnets make use of Classless Internet Domain Routing and are known as CIDR blocks, with their peer connectivity advertised by their ISP using BGP. It is expected that these folks will provide radio links and/or tunnels to hams in their area.