One of the ways in which ham radio can help fill in gaps in internet service when normal infrastructure is knocked out is via ad-hoc self-organizing RF computer networks, now referred to as Broadband Hamnet. Flying mostly under the radar so far, the technology now seems poised for a significant boost in usability, according to several reports on both Newsline and the ARRL Letter.
In March, the developers of Broadband Hamnet announced a firmware upgrade for users of both Linksys WRT54G and Ubiquiti wireless routers, and a group calling itself the AREDN Project introduced new software for what it calls the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network, or AREDN. According to Newsline, AREDN is being described as a new way by which hams providing emergency communications can support needs for high-speed data transmission. The AREDN software works with the mesh networks created using Broadband Hamnet and allows the interconnection of laptops, cell phones and other wireless devices. The networks may (or may not) also connect to the Internet. More information on AREDN is available from <www.aredn.org>.
|A typical Broadband Hamnet mesh network.|
Meanwhile, the ARRL Letter reports that a group of hams in Utah successfully deployed a Broadband Hamnet mesh network in support of a Boy Scouts "Scouting for Food" project in March. The group set up a network of 13 nodes across the Salt Lake Valley, linking back to the local scout headquarters and transmitting live video and audio from each of the food drop-off points and the truck dispatch location. Described by one of the participants as "Wi-Fi on steroids," the 2.4-GHz network covered distances of more than eight miles from the central hub site.