The Science of Sustainability

Ham Radio: Helping to Build a Fast and Free Internet

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Gliwice Radio Tower at Night The HInternet would use radio frequencies.San Francisco hackerspace, Noisebridge, is making an alternative network modeled after the Internet that would provide high-speed connectivity for a fraction of the cost of traditional internet service.

Noisebridge is working on this project using commodity Wi-Fi equipment that’s been modified to work under amateur radio frequencies. The FCC grants experimenters spectrum space to build high power, long range radio systems. Through this provision, Noisebridge has begun building the HInternet (a combination of “Ham Radio" and “Internet”).

As one enthusiast explains, “You can run any application you could run over the Internet, the difference is you don’t need any wires. Everything is done through radio links. In the event of a major disaster, you wouldn’t have to worry about downed lines or earthquake damage to underground equipment — the network would naturally reform itself, routing around failures.”

The idea to create the HInternet was triggered by the realization that there was a lot open IP space allocated to amateur radio that was not in use.  Aside from the benefits this system could provide in natural disaster, the HInternet is driven by the belief in freedom and open access to the Internet. The United States is debating a bill to create an Internet kill switch, also known as the PCNAA bill. For true redundancy, a non-critical network such as the HInternet is being built to avoid this single point of failure.

The HInternet project is looking for volunteers to help them test and build the network. If you’re interested in learning more, they are holding a variety of information sessions this Fall. Visit their website for more information.

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Laura Khalil

About the Author ()

Laura is a marketer by day and nerd by night. She's the Chief Nerd Herder for Dorkbyte, a blog devoted to art, technology and science. She's been named one of the most engaging women to speak about technology and has been featured on The Setup. A member of Noisebridge, she is working on two robotics challenges, leading a puzzle team that competes in a variety of puzzle challenges throughout the US and monkeys around on ham amateur radio. She loves astronomy, Making and hardware hacking. She was most recently involved in teaching hardware circuitry at Maker Faire.Laura has executed marketing strategies and campaigns for tech startups in the Bay Area. Her work with social media has been inducted into the Viral Marketing Hall of Fame.