Background

A survey conducted by the ARRL Technology Task Force, of League members and other amateurs revealed that the number one interest in new technologies was in high-speed digital networks.  Amateur radio, particularly EmComm (this was just after 911), needed some means of data transmission significantly faster than conventional packet radio.  

In January 2001, the ARRL Board of Directors voted unanimously that the ARRL should proceed with the development of High Speed Digital Networks for the Amateur Service. The ARRL President, Jim Haynie, W5JBP, appointed a group of individuals knowledgeable in the field from the international Amateur community and industry. The group reports to the Technology Task Force.  The Group is officially called the High Speed Digital Networks and Multimedia Work Group.   John Champa, K8OCL became the chairman of the group. 

HSMM stands for High Speed Multimedia radio. It is not a specific operating mode, but rather more of a direction or driving force within amateur radio.  HSMM, although digital radio, it is not primarily keyboard radio communication, as in packet radio. Among the capabilities of HSMM are digital voice (DV) and digital video (ATV). Yes, you can type keyboard messages back and forth (chat mode) as in PSK. Also, you can do file transfers as in RTTY, but at significantly higher speeds! In additional, if there is a server on the radio network, you can do e-mailing and maybe even surf the internet. That is why it is called multimedia radio.

What Happened to the HSMM Working Group?

At its January 2006 meeting, the ARRL BoD directed that the HSMM (High Speed Multi Media) Working Group summarize its accomplishments and submit its final recommendations by year’s end. With that directive in mind, and with dissatisfaction within the Working Group regarding how its recommendations concerning permitted radio network protection methods (e.g., encryption) for the Amateur Radio Service are being communicated by the League, most of the group members simply left.  John, K8OCL also still submitted his WG year-end closing summary report to the Board for their January 2007 meeting, but by then he was about the only ham left on the team.

The HSMM was chartered to find out what it would take to do high speed data and other modes on frequencies above HF.  The HSMM Working Group's Basic Charter was not openended...and in Jan. 2007 the board decided the WG had done its job and wanted to refine some specific works.  The working Group was always under the Technical Task Force.

The ARRL HSMM website (http://www.arrl.org/hsmm/), which has been in operation for the past five years, has been transferred to the Technical Information Services (TIS). However, the HSMM public discussion reflectors remain in full operation.  The original HSMM web site was eliminated by direction from Joel Harrison, W5ZN, ARRL President.  You can see the old HSMM webpage by way of the internet archive.  http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.arrl.org/hsmm/

While the ARRL HSMM WG push may have disappeared, many people are still experimenting with & using it.  John, K8OCL still writes a column in each issue of CQ-VHF magazine.  Another good place to check is the North Texas High Speed MultiMedia mailing list.  Others: Texas A&M University Amateur Radio Using 802.11(x) Mailing List  & the  TAPR Ham 802.11 Mailing List

There are quite few rumors as the the why they were dissolved.  One rumor was the group was split on HSMM direction.  

One of the groups directions was in collaboration with TAPR to develop 2.4 to 3.3-3.5-GHz transverters suitable for use with 802.1 lb gear.    A second was in cooperation with AMSAT-NA and its proposal to experiment with ground-based 5-GHz in-band transponders.  Other avenues of investigation they had include the eventual development of an HSMM Backbone Network,  via the use of HF and VHF (50.6-50.8 MHz)  an idea lead by Neil Sablatzky, K8IT .

Despite multiple directions, I'm sure it was probably due to friction between the ARRL board of directors and HSMM working group.  In general, just not seeing eye to eye.  Policy recommendations were part of the reason the ARRL disbanded the HSMM Working Group.  The board didn't like policy recommendations. They only wanted technical recommendations. But the WG got so frustrated with the Board's flip flops on the issue (sound familiar?), that they all just resigned... in total... after one conference call in November 2006.

The HSMM WG was an attempt to steer ham radio into the future.  It failed. Tradition won. Of course don't stop your experimenting, just don't expect any mass movement.

The real reason?

Simply put, it's my personal belief that the commercial sharing of the overlapping bands was the core problem.

This frequency sharing and need to secure Part 97 nodes from unlicensed nodes lead to an attempt to spell out how encryption can be used in the amateur service.  A huge debate broke out, splitting up the ARRL board badly.

Members of the ISP-Wireless list discussed an attempt by ham radio operators to clarify interference issues in the 2.40 GHz to 2.45 GHz spectrum in August 2001. "The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) recently announced its Amateur Radio Interference Assessment Project, using amateur volunteers across the country to assess noise levels from unlicensed devices in bands above 400 MHz, with initial emphasis on the band 2400-2450 MHz, where Bluetooth and IEEE 802.11b-protocol wireless LANs are gaining popularity." 

When it was announced in June 2002, that hams may possibly get 2400-2402mhz as primary users, to protect the AMSAT AO-40 downlink, this again concerned WISPs.  

There are a number of ham operators who run WISPs. When you look through the received FCC comments against lifting the 1 watt automatic power control APC rule (RM-11325), most of them are from these types.  But the whole initial attention getter may have been the FCC queries against Darwin Networks back in February 2001, where a wireless ISP was interfering with an ATV repeater in the Dalllas area.

An editorial in CQ-VHF by Ron Curry, N6QL in CQ-VHF Magazine, Spring 2003 commends the initiative to encourage spread spectrum explorations but points out the need for careful - responsible sharing.  He points out there are large companies with deep pockets who unfortunately depend on Part 15 devices for business applications.  They will likely not sit idly and allow hobbyists to interfere with their operations.  He encourages ham to educate themselves on microwave propagation, engineering practices and system design, and resist the temptations to quickly resort to amplifiers.  Steve Stroh, N8GNJ also wrote about the cautions; predicting some of the HSMM attention may backfire badly on Amateur Radio. Ron and Steve's OP-ed seems to be a futuristic response to a Racine, WI HSMM groups bulk mailing to area WISPs in March 2004.  http://www.eham.net/articles/4924

These sharing reasons probably what ultimately caused a shift to HSMM on protected bands.  It's also where the dangerous truth was brought up. Ever hear of 'use it or lose it?'... unfortunately WISPs are using it."  

On the other side; David, WA6NMF wrote just about this in the TAPR PSR DCC 2007 issue, titled "Use It or Lose It, SHF Edition."  He points out that companies are putting a lot of pressure on the FCC to allow unlicensed operations over a wider frequency range.  There is much more amateur spectrum to lose if we don’t use it more actively.  And  points out that there are two other frequency bands, much less crowded than 2.4 GHz, where hams can build systems using modified Part 15 gear.

Fortunately the WISP's also seemed to agree that the shared spectrum was less than ideal.  Their answer is to  lobbying for a  a WISP band, where WISP's could share spectrum. In October 2008, WISPA Proposes a "Licensed-Lite" Solution for TV White Spaces.  

On November 4 2008 the FCC voted to allow Part 15 devices to operate on unused TV channels. The landslide vote of the five FCC commissioners (4 to 1) follows years of research, testing and public input that concluded white space frequencies can and should be used to transmit Internet signals to regions of the country that need it most.

Oddly enough  there was some internet rumors that hams were against white space for internet use. White space use does not overlap or impact the amateur service. As a matter of fact Wifi right now does overlap our 2.3-2.4 and 5.8 GHz allocations, so the good news is this may take some of that congestion off our shared bands and alleviate the shared commercial use of the band (and the need for BPL), which by the way was never in the FCC's scope back in 1980 when the ISM bands where created.


ARRL Motive$

The ARRL is often criticized for acting in its own interests rather than in the interest of the entire amateur radio community or the future of the hobby.. Common criticisms include ARRL's support for less strict licensing requirements in the 2000s, which opponents consider "dumbing down" amateur radio and/or making amateur radio more like CB radio.  

Critics claim that the ARRL is doing this for purposes of gaining additional membership. "They Just Want to Make More Money..." ''Zero Bias'' editorial column. -CQ Amateur Radio- April, 2004.

Others feel, however, that the ARRL was slow to lobby for the removal of or the easing of the Morse code proficiency requirements of the various license classes; that this “conservatism” was keeping many otherwise qualified people out of amateur radio and thus threatening its future.

Other criticisms of the organization cite its support for segmentation of the HF amateur bands in the U.S. by Bandwidth,  rather than by mode, which some claim gives preference to users of the Winlink  system. "Regulation by Bandwidth" ''Zero Bias'' editorial column. '-CQ Amateur Radio- November, 2004.

Normally the ARRL is "out of touch" with current operating practices on 50 MHz and above.  So the creation of the HSMM working group was very commendable, if not shocking.  It still seems peculiar that the 2007 ARRL board of directors would close down a developing technology group as if it had done its job. As they have only begun with this technology.  Instead you would have expected to see them request continued, if not even, expanded activity.    Rest assured the axe to the HSMM WG was a combination of things, but from the ARRL boards perspective I'm sure it had to due with money.  For the development to formally continue would have cost membership, and regulatory lobbying dollars.


Paul, W4RI was the Chief technical officer and was the HSMM's reporting person.  It was also his recommendation to the Board that the HSMM Working Group be founded.  That's why he is referred to as the "Father of HSMM".  However, he did not come into the picture as the reporting person until 2006. A lot of frustration had built up by then.

The groups support for encryption, and objection to hard bandwidth regulations on HF, that the majority of hams would probably strongly oppose.  Basically these ideas are things the board and most hams don't like hearing.  Most hams resist change.

Despite the groups breakup, some of the old working group members are focusing on equipment for protected spectrum, as some R&D shifted to the 3.3 GHz band.  Developing equipment for protected spectrum seems to include; 6 Meter equipment 200kbs bandwidth + Testing under STA (now expired) with up to 200 kHz bandwidth, 440MHz equipment 2Mbs bandwidth, 10GHz specialized backbone link equipment.  (see below) Also see this report http://www2.arrl.org/announce/reports-0307/hsmm.html

A new group call ARBA, the Amateur Radio Broadband Alliance, had formed in the ashes of ARRL's HSMM Working Group.  Both Dave Anderson, KG4YZY (a founding member) and Paul Toth, NA4AR are part of ARBA, along with about 7 or so other people.  Many members are from the West Central Florida Group, Inc  (Central Florida High Speed Digital Networks & Multimedia Group).  ARBA's goals are to promote the use of the SHF bands for broadband data (bands in the gigahertz range 99% of hams don't even in most cases know exist.  Dave has been involved with a project to develop a 3.3GHz amateur broadband data system. It's an interesting concept, and one that might be the trend of the hobby in the future. If nothing else, it could bring some new interest into the hobby.

Taken from the AMSAT Eagle Mailing List (The AMSAT Eagle Project's vision is to deploy high earth orbit satellite systems that offer daily coverage by 2009 and continuous coverage by 2012.): 
One of the missing links in Amateur Radio disaster communications has been digital satellite capability over an extended period (more than give or ten minutes at a time).  EAGLE will help fill that need. 
- Paul-NA4AR Feb 07


There is a common misconception that HSMM was some sort of concentrated effort.  Really all it was is a loose set of guidelines to introduce the concept.  It really could evolve into something powerful, the "next generation of ham radio."  But. it needs a leading force for that.  The ARRL and TAPR both seem to have no interest.  The should both be working on the community/ public relations with companies like Ubiquiti, and developers like the DD-WRT guys.   Encouragement to work together and enabling hams would not only be beneficial for the hobby, but also the general populous.  The HSMM working group encouraged hams, but neither larger group did anything to enable further experimentation.

 


Misc Notes


It should be noted that The Technology Task Force still exists.  Some believe that in the future there will be more working groups to meet specific needs such as now exist with the DV group, SDR group and OFDM modem project.  (http://www2.arrl.org/announce/reports-2004/january/ttf.html) The HSMM WG did prove that COTS 802.11x hardware could be used under Part 97.  During their reign, the group provided the ARRL with guidance, promoted technology development, developed operating practices, and promoted hardware development.  Basically the board wants more focus on hardware / software and less on policy and regulations.  Though the rules do limit that development.

Report to the ARRL Board of Directors HSMM WG/ TTF January 19, 2005 By: John Champa, K8OCL - Covers a 70cm OFDM modem, a recommended; licensing scheme & band plan 

What is HSMM Microwave Radio? By: John Champa, K8OCL

http://www.openhsmm.org A combination of Open Source projects designed to facilitate ideas put forth by the HSMM Task Force by Paul Pescitelli, K4UJ

http://outernet.wikidot.com A project to create a Linux distribution that links many digital modes of amateur radio

HSMM Regional Groups:

http://www.mi-drg.org/
- Michigan
Livingston County, Michigan
Oakland County, Michigan - Great Intro To HSMM Site
Mankato, Minnesota - Mankato Area Radio Club
The Racine Megacycle Club, Racine Wisconsin
San Francisco, California
http://hsmm-mesh.org/ - Austin, and Plano Texas
Austin, Texas- Also encompasses North Dallas/Plano, Laredo, and Victoria, Texas,
San Antonio, Texas
North Texas
Peel Amateur Radio Club, Brampton Ontario
Mankato Area Radio Club, Minnesota
Orange County, North Carolina 
Southern Nevada
Volusia County, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Southern Nevada
Clark County, Washington
Washington DC Metro Area
Pacific North-West - Seattle, Redmond, Washington areas
Palm Beach Florida -

 


HSMM Working Group Hardware Directions


The HSMM-HF Project

The development of a HSMM Backbone Network was initially on 6M, and then also on 10M and other HF bands.  Neil Sablatzky, K8IT has graciously and enthusiastically agreed to lead this new HSMM project.   The project started in 2003  requesting the Board for support in seeking an STA to begin experimentation on the HF bands using software defined radios (SDR) and orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation.  The Special Temporary Authorization has since expired.

The TAPR Transverter Project converting 802.11b/g to the 3.3 -3.5 GHz amateur band

TAPR has expressed a serious interest in the development of a transverter to take IEEE 802.11b/g signals to the amateur radio 3.3 -3.5 GHz amateur band. The HSMM WG has agreed to support this effort in any way possible and in conjunction with our own efforts to developed economical bi-directional amplifiers (BDA) for increased range.


HSMM WG BDA Project (2.4 GHz)

The HSMM Working Group has issued a call for BDA construction articles as part of our efforts to develop economical, and when appropriate, slightly higher (4-10 watts) RF power output when using 802.11b. Given the somewhat low density of amateur stations in some parts of the US, path loss analyses clearly indicate that this additional power is occasionally needed to enable amateur radio experimentation between stations when there are long distances involved. If the TAPR transverter project proves successful, then emphasis may be added to also develop HSMM BDA devices for the 3.3 -- 3.5 GHz band.
(From: http://www.arrl.org/announce/reports-0307/hsmm.html)

70 cm OFDM Modem

Section 97.305 authorizes the following emission types for the 440 MHz band; MCW, phone, image, RTTY, data, SS, test.  By the data/RTTY and modulation limits spelled out in Section 97.307(f)(6) for specified digital codes, there is a 56 kilobauds speed or maximum bandwidth of 100 kHz for 222-450 MHz.  (On all frequencies 902 MHz and above there are no speed or bandwidth limits.)  However for 70 cm there is no bandwidth limit for image communications.  An 802.11a/g OFDM modem would be a J2C (fax) or J2F (video) emission.   The word image encompasses both television and facsimile.  Basically the rules permits you to transmit images information using essentially any modulation method.  Interestingly enough the ATSC digital TV standard uses Coded orthogonal frequency-division multiplex (COFDM) (The OFDM modulator follows the inner coding and interleaving).  Using an Atheros chipset that allows you to reduce your channel with to 5 MHz channel would fit in the lower 12 MHz of the band where ATV is allowed, and can still yield up to a 10 Mbps signaling rate.  Adding IP web style cameras to such hardware does pave a nice way to experiment with digital amateur television.

The 70 cm band is ideal for HSMM and, using the following interpretation of FCC regulations, we should be able to use OFDM modems with an occupied bandwidth up to 9 MHz (at least) on the 70 cm band. HSMM would be classified as an image emission type. This interpretation also allows 6 kHz (or more) bandwidth OFDM modems on the MF and HF amateur bands.

In 47 CFR 97.315 the emission type "image" is defined as including "emissions having B as the first symbol; 7, 8 or 9 as the second symbol; W as the third symbol".

In 47 CFR 2.201 (c) (2) a first symbol of B defines the type of modulation of the main carrier as an "emission in which the main carrier is amplitude-modulated (including cases where sub-carriers are angle-modulated) with independent sidebands". The OFDM modem fits this description as it has a central carrier with multiple subcarriers in the upper and lower sidebands that are angle (phase) modulated. In 47 CFR 2.201 (d) (5) a second symbol of 7 indicates that the nature of the signals modulating the main carrier are "two or more channels containing quantitized or digital information". 47 CFR 2.201 (d)(2) and (3) indicate that time-division multiplex is excluded for a single channel so the time division multiplex inherent in HSMM communications creates two or more channels.  In 47 CFR 2.201 (e) (8) a third symbol of W indicates that the type of information to be transmitted is "a combination of the above" and that includes (4) "facsimile", (5) "data transmission, telemetry and telecommand", (6) "telephony" and (7) "television". HSMM fits this definition as it includes data, speech and image components.

In 47 CFR 97.305 "a station may transmit the following emission types on the frequencies indicated, as authorized to the control operator, subject to the standards specified in 97.307(f) of this part". The following table includes the "image" type for all bands and references 47 CFR 97.307 (f) (2) for the 160 m through 1.25 m bands but does not reference it for the 70 cm through 1 mm bands.

This is the only restriction on the image emission type and states that "the total bandwidth of an independent sideband emission (having B as the first symbol), or a multiplexed image and phone emission, shall not exceed that of a communications quality A3E emission". I can't find a definition for "communications quality" but it seems to be taken as 3 kHz on the MF and HF bands.

Thus OFDM modems using 6 kHz or less should be authorized on 225 MHz and below and OFDM modems with no bandwidth restriction on 420 MHz and above. If the emission must fit within the bandwidth used by existing analog image communication devices, that bandwidth would be 9 MHz for DSM AM ATV with a 4.5 MHz sound subcarrier.

The HSMM Working Group specifically requests that the ARRL legal counsel, Chris Imlay, review this plan.

Submitted by John Stevensen, KD6OZH, HSMM WG, and RMAN-UHF Project Leader.

(From http://www.ntms.org/802.11/ARRL Board of Directors 2005.doc)

Also See: UHF Modems For Amateur Radio Stations By K8OCL & KD6OZH QEX Mar/Apr 2005 


AMSAT Transponder & Microwave Engineering  Project 

The Microwave Engineering Project (MEP) is a high-speed digital microwave-band system for amateur radio that supports high-definition video, point-to-point, and multiple-access communications.  It is part of the AMSAT-NA Namaste project using in-band 5 GHz & 3 GHz transponders.

They also took on the 10 GHz specialized backbone link  transverter project, using Sofan Gunplexers, yielding 2 Mbit/s.

This effort, named Namaste, is intended to provide a well-engineered solution for the ground station portion of AMSAT’s Advanced Communications Project. The system is digital, with an uplink in the band of 5.650 – 5.670 GHz and a downlink in the band of 3.400 – 3.410 GHz.  The system is all-digital, with features not found in traditional amateur satellite service communications systems. A texting-capable highly-portable Namaste ground station for 2m/70cm operation is also under development. This is called the Namaste SuperPortable.

The frequencies of operation are 5.6GHz and 3.4GHz.  The bandwidth should be at least 10MHz. The system is intended to be useful, with modifications, in the amateur satellite service as a ground station.  The full-duplex system should transmit high-definition video signals.

 


Attempted HSMM Regulatory Changes


Encryption on ham radio

While IEEE 802.11b allows WEP, an encryption algorithm, Amateur Radio transmissions are characterized as being an open media. That is, amateur radio operators expect and assume that their transmissions are being listened to around the world with no presumption of privacy. And, the FCC even mandates that hams will not encode/encrypt to obscure meaning.

Encryption is a subject for debate but the League feels that encryption is ok as long as the purpose is NOT TO HIDE the message content is within Part 97.  Again, the encryption's purpose is not to "obscure" but to provide security and authentication.  To further this, an amendment made to Article 25.2A (1A) at the 2003 World radio Conference no longer specifically prohibits the use of encryption and other strong security measures on transmissions between Amateur Radio stations within the same jurisdiction. 

The FCC, under non-emergency situations does NOT want stations of one service routinely communicating with stations of another service  So many saw encryption as required to be used, and the ARRL attorney (Chris Imlay, W3KD) asked the FCC if that was acceptable and they said "yes". The FCC's reasoning was that it was NOT our INTENT (an important legal concept) to obscure the communications.

Some agree, some don't.  As far as I know the FCC is aware or should be as the HSMM and ARRL have made no secret that hams are using 802.11x with WEP for the  purpose of control of the access to Part 97 operations and thus far have not issued any citations.  It is my understanding that some hams have sent letters to the FCC telling them that they are running WEP and 802.11x on a certain 2.4 GHz frequency and at what location and times and the individual(s) have not received a citation. 

This probably isn't much of an issue for a private network, but I can see it being an issue when porting traffic over the internet. Keep in mind how the FCC rules are stated: "An amateur station shall not intentionally obscure the meaning ..." Encrypting just login & password strings doesn't obscure the meaning does it? Also using encryption can be classified as an "unspecified" digital code, which is permitted as long as you provide public documentation for it.   Which can be fulfilled much the way the ARRL HSMM created a standardized WEP key that they posted on their webpage.

The use of encryption has actually been legal all along.  For the communications purposes of; network security and access control, emergency communications, and practice for same—our purposes in using encryption are the security of the network and the privacy of third-party information. In either case, the purpose is not to obscure meaning.

It should also be clarified that whatever encryption methods you use —WEP, WPA, WPA2, or whatever—it must be publicly documented. Please note that this specifically means the encryption algorithm, not the encryption key. 

For further reading;

Security & Data Integrity On A Modern Amateur Radio Network - By: Paul J. Toth – NA4AR
"HSMM and Information Security," by K8OCL CQ-VHF Fall 2004
- preview via CQ-VHF website
"Data Encryption is Legal," N2IRZ, CQ Magazine Aug 2006 - preview from the Summer 2006 TAPR PSR


From: http://web.archive.org/web/20041024032812/http://www2.arrl.org/hsmm/wep.html  (This WEP ham standard first appeared on the HSMM page Dec 2004.)

HSMM Authentication Using WEP

 

64 BIT

Mnemonic = HSMMPart97

Hexcode = 48 53 4D 4D 50 61 72 74 39 37

128 BIT

Mnemonic = Ham-Radio-HSMM-Part97-FCC

Hexcode = 48 61 6D 2D 52 61 64 69 6F 2D 2D 48 53 4D 4D 2D 50 61 72 74 39 37 2D 46 43 43

From: http://web.archive.org/web/20060106033255/www.arrl.org/hsmm/wep.html

HSMM Authentication Using WEP

 

64 BIT

Mnemonic = HSMM-
Hexcode = 48 53 4D 4D 2D 

128 BIT

Mnemonic = HSMM-Part97-
Hexcode = 48 53 4D 4D 2D 50 61 72 74 39 37 2D 


Quote:

Thus, the HSMM Working Group respectfully asks the ARRL Board of Directors for their support of this needed regulatory change and urges the Board to support the development and filing of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) permitting the use of encryption and strong security protocols on domestic transmissions above 50 MHz.  (Source: http://www.arrl.org/hsmm/ofdm/WhitePaper7.pdf)
 


Request to drop Automatic Power Control (RM-11325)

In March 2006, the ARRL requested to drop the automatic power control requirement on amateur spread spectrum above 1 watt, as it impractical and deters experimentation.  Rumor is it was the actually  FCC who approached hams about dropping the APC requirement for spread spectrum.

(The ARRL HSMM Working Group received notice from the FCC via the League's General Counsel that APC is no longer a requirement for hams under the Part 97 Spread Spectrum Rules. The FCC considers APC for hams who often build their own equipment, including BDAs-"technologically impractical."  Per CQ-VHF, Summer 2009, page 40)

League Requests Rule Change to Ease Spread Spectrum Operation

NEWINGTON, CT, March 20, 2006--The ARRL has asked the FCC to modify one of its rules governing spread spectrum (SS) operation on Amateur Radio frequencies. The League this month petitioned the Commission to drop all but the first sentence of §97.311(d), which now requires the use of automatic power control (APC) for SS stations running more than 1 W. The ARRL request would retain the 100 W overall power limitation for SS.

"The effect of the rule change would be to eliminate an automatic power control provision that has proven over time to be impractical" in terms of compliance, the League said in its Petition for Rule Making filed March 13. It also argued that the provision--one the League had proposed and supported more than 10 years ago--was unnecessary to protect the operations of other licensees and had "unfortunately served as an unintended but effective deterrent to spread spectrum experimentation" on ham radio.

Since the FCC first approved the use of spread spectrum techniques for Amateur Radio in 1985 on bands above 225 MHz and at power levels up to 100 W, there's been limited--but never widespread--experimental amateur operation. Over the years, the FCC also authorized Special Temporary Authority (STA) in some instances to allow broader SS experimentation. More recently, the FCC has made the SS rules less restrictive in response to League showings that the rules were hampering SS experimentation and that interference has not proven to be an issue.

The ARRL says it now agrees with those who opposed the automatic power control provision in WT Docket 97-12, which the Commission concluded in 1999. Those changes not only relaxed rules governing the use of spread spectrum techniques by radio amateurs but opened the door to the possibility of international spread spectrum communication.

"Now seven years later, it is apparent to ARRL that the rules requiring APC indeed have proven to be difficult to implement, unnecessary and something of a barrier to SS experimentation," the ARRL said in its latest rule making petition. "Section 97.311(d) can be greatly simplified without increasing the risk of intra-service or inter-service harmful interference."

The ARRL said it has no problem with the 100 W power limit because there's no evidence it "contributes to the current regulatory disincentive to experiment with SS." The 100 W power level also limits the power spectral density of an SS emission, contributing to compatibility between Amateur Radio SS and narrowband modes in the same allocations, the League said.

The rules already in place make spread spectrum "essentially secondary to any amateur narrowband emission modes," the League pointed out. "Given these existing rules, the APC requirement is not necessary to avoid interference to any other user of the same spectrum as the amateur SS emission."

In any event, the League concluded, radio amateurs employing SS modes would remain obliged to comply with the rule requiring use of "the minimum transmitter power necessary to carry out the desired communication." That was a primary reason the ARRL asked for the APC provision in the first place.

The FCC has not yet assigned a rule making (RM) petition number to the ARRL's petition nor invited comments.

In its Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) WT Docket 04-140, the FCC, in response to another ARRL petition, proposed extending the bands available for spread spectrum to include 222-225 MHz. On its own initiative, the Commission also recommended permitting SS operation on 6 and 2 meters, a move the ARRL opposed. In its comments, the League cited concerns about raising the noise floor on 6 meters and the fact that both bands already support substantial narrowband and weak-signal work, meaning "fewer opportunities for frequency reuse in those allocations."

The Commission is expected to conclude WT Docket 04-140 this year. The FCC suggested that restrictions on spread spectrum already in place should be sufficient to prevent any adverse impact of SS operation to other users of 6 and 2 meters.

The HSMM Working Group has recommended to the ARRL Board that a request for Spectial Temporary Authority (STA) be submitted to the FCC to allow all amateurs to operate up to 10 watts output with no automatic power control (APC) on spread spectrum modes.  (Quote: http://web.archive.org/web/20050416130935/http://www.arrl.org/hsmm/project.html)

The FCC contacted the HSMM WG to advise us that they now consider the 1W APC rule to be unfeasible using 802.11 modulation. The original regulation was written on the basis that future Radio Amateur HSMM radio would be CDMA based,  not 802.11. With that development it is now considered null and void, both unworkable and unenforceable.


In the July 25, 2008 ARRL Letter, the ARRL Board of Directors Plans the League's Future at Second 2008 Board Meeting:
"Regulatory Matters- The Board voted to establish an ad hoc study committee to review Part 97 of the rules governing the Amateur Radio Service to ascertain what rule change(s) would be beneficial to promote wideband digital modes, while at the same time minimizing potential interference to narrowband modes."


"Amateur Radio used to be technology leaders. Today its the last bastion of otherwise obsolete 'museum modes' like AM, CW and ATV while the real world technologies of digital wide band modes are exploding. Not that having a place for museum modes is bad -- in my opinion we just shouldn't hold on to them at the expense of the future."  --Bill - WA7NWP. (Mar 18, 2007 to the digitalradio yahoo group)

 

Why HSMM using off the shelf hardware?

This always seems to be a question.  The simple answer is because you are a ham.  The amateur radio service was devised in part due to encourage experimentation, as hams have traditionally helped advance the radio art though that. Experimentation always brings a sense of unique pride.    It my personal belief, and it also appears to be consistent with the HSMM WG, that this type of experimentation, is good for the hobby, and may help bring the hobby to the 21 century.  Hopefully most of this experimentation will always be “amateur radio”, as in my mind that is what it is.  To me it makes no fundamental difference if you do this under Part 97 or Part 15 so don't let that denture you from experimenting.

It appears the future of two way radio is digital, and we must also advance in this direction. The digital premise is that it generally allows more use in a more efficient/flexible use of band space. Using off the shelf hardware is a great chance to get you feet wet, and the affordability and availably is there. So I feel hams should not be afraid to utilize and experiment in this shared band space and elsewhere.

The FCC has even stated, most current Part 15 use of 802.11 technology is clearly NOT in the original scope of the FCC’s intent for private, unlicensed LAN technology.  I also think most present unlicensed Wifi is outside of the original scope of Part 15 (certification issues). The commercialization of Part 15 endeavors is also strange. It’s much like those who use other unlicensed services such as FRS to conduct business. They all typically complain of interference. These oddities are probably due to availability of affordable equipment (economic) and bandspace issues.  There is hope with the pressures from commercial Part 15 interests.  They too would prefer their own carved out piece of spectrum and are seeking a piece from the carved out televisions white space.  

However in the mean time I believe hams should not be greedy in shared bandspace, as that space is limited. I’ve seen some bad examples. This defies the amateur code. At the same time, I think there should be an awareness to the shared users, and an understanding of what we are, and that some minimal inference may be unavoidable. But an overall attempt to work together and co-exist.

Over the years there has been a number of revisions to the ham radio examination requirements. One way to look at this is that it will hopefully entice more of the computer/tech types to the hobby. As things progress increasingly more digital, their expertise may be very beneficial. Societies electronics evolvement had made traditional homebrewing difficult. Components are smaller and harder to work with, things are designed more throw away. However homebrewing should and will continue. It will evolve to a more modular and software level than component level.

Aside from these "theoretical reasons", I have pointed out in the past;

-That one of the main advantages to reclassifying your operations to Part 97 is interference protection from unlicensed operations.  
-Reclassifying under Part 97 also provides a way around the Part 15 certification/authorization problem  (goes hand in hand with the Part 15 scope)
-Under Part 97, you allowed greater output power if necessary, as there are no ERP limits.  (This may be key when trying to combat these elevated noise floors)

73- Steve, KB9MWR


List of known printed HSMM resources for further reading:


ARRL- VHF Digital Handbook - Chapter 7 - High Speed Multi-Media Radio by K8OCL
N6GN, "Inexpensive Multi-Megabaud Microwave Data Link," Ham Radio Magazine, December 1989
VE3JF, "VHF/UHF/Microwave Radio Propagation Primer for Digital Experimenters," TAPR/ARLL DCC, 1997
N2IRZ, "Web Pages on Packet Radio," CQ-VHF February 1999
K4ABT, "The Phoenix Shall Rise," CQ Magazine, June 2000
N8GNJ, "Broadband Wireless Internet Access and Amateur Radio," CQ April 2002
KB9MWR, "Inexpensive High Speed Packet is Here," TAPR PSR Summer 2002
WB0ZVV "Propagation Losses Through Common Building Materials 2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz", Magis Networks, 2002 
K8IT, "Is All Data Acceptable Data," CQ-VHF Fall 2003
"The Use of Pringles Containers To Enhance Network Security," CQ April 2003
K8IT, "What is HSMM?," CQ-VHF, Spring 2003
W4RI, & K8OCL, "On The Amateur Radio Use of IEEE 802.11b Radio Local Area Networks," CQ-VHF, Spring 2003
KD5OUG, "Columbia Shuttle Recovery and 802.11b," CQ-VHF, Spring 2003
K8IT, "A Low Cost Horizontal Polarized Omni Directional Antenna for $15," CQ-VHF Summer 2003
K8OCL, "Alternative Options for Resolving HSMM Interference Issues," CQ-VHF Summer 2003
AA6JR, "Digital Hamming: A Need for Standards," CQ Magazine, January 2003
N2IRZ, "A Cheap and Easy High-Speed Data Connection," CQ, February 2003
N6CL "IEEE 802.11b: Friend or Foe?" Mar 2003 CQ
N5KM, "High Speed Multimedia Radio," QST, April 2003
KA3JIJ, "Wi-Fi for Hams Part 1: Part 97 or Part 15," CQ, June 2003
KA3JIJ, "Wi-Fi for Hams Part 2: Building a Wi-Fi Network," CQ, July 2003
K8OCL & KA3JIJ, "How To Get Into HSMM" CQ-VHF Fall 2003
K8OCL, "HSMM in a Briefcase" CQ-VHF, Fall 2003
N8UR, "Amateur Radio & 802.11," TAPR PSR Winter 2003
K8OCL, KD6OZH, & VA3BHF, "HSMM Radio Equipment" QEX Nov/Dec 2004
K8OCL, "The Frontlines - HSMM, Part 1" CQ-VHF Winter 2004
K8OCL, "The Frontlines - HSMM, Part 2" CQ-VHF Spring 2004
K8OCL, "The Frontlines - HSMM, Part 3" CQ-VHF Summer 2004
K8OCL, "HSMM and Information Security" CQ-VHF, Fall 2004
WA5VJB "2.4-GHz Patch Antennas," CQ-VHF, Fall 2004
K8OCL & KD6OZH "28 kbps to 9 Mbps UHF Modems for Amateur Raio Stations," QEX Mar/Apr 2005
WA5VJB "Cheap Yagis for 2450 MHz," CQ-VHF, Spring 2005
N2IRZ, "Can HSMM Find a Real Home in Ham Radio" CQ Magazine, April 2005
N2IRZ, "The Digital Circle of Life," CQ June 2005
KD9LA, "IEEE 802.11 Experiments In Virginia's Shenandoah Valley," QST July 2005
K8OCL, "S.H.A.R.K.s and Tsunamis," CQ-VHF Winter 2005
K8OCL, "The Hinternet and VPN Projects," CQ-VHF, Summer 2006
N2IRZ, "Some Encryption is Legal," TAPR PSR Summer 2006 
WB8IMY "The Hinternet and openHSMM," QST July 2006
N2IRZ, "Data Encryption is Legal" CQ Magazine, August 2006
N2IRZ, "Building a Decent RF Network" CQ Magazine, October 2005
K8OCL, "What is Happening to the HSMM Working Group?," CQ-VHF, Fall 2006
WB8IMY, "Nontraditional Field Day-You Bet," QST November 2006
K8OCL, "The Hinternet on 5 GHz," CQ-VHF, Winter 2006
N2IRZ, "Wireless Local Area Network Design," CQ Dec 2006
WA6NMF "Use It or Lose It, SHF Edition" TAPR PSR DCC 2007
K8OCL, "The Sociology of Regulations," CQ-VHF, Spring 2007
KL1Y, "The Integration of Amateur Radio and 802.11," May/June QEX 2007
Paul Asadoorian & Larry Pesce, "Linksys WRT54G Ultimate Hacking" July 2007
"Switchless Bidirectional Amplifier for Wireless Communication Systems," Wiley Inter-Science - Microwave and Optical Technology Letters, May 2007
Rob Flickenger, "Wireless Networking in the Developing World" Dec 2007 
K8OCL, "Getting on the Internet - Your First HSMM Radio Station," CQ-VHF, Spring 2008
K8OCL, "HSMM and Field Day" CQ-VHF, Summer 2008
K8OCL, "New High-Speed Multi-Media Radio Mesh Networking," CQ-VHF, Fall 2008
K8OCL, "The Hinternet - Protecting HSMM Radio Networks," CQ-VHF, Winter 2008
WB8IMY, "High Speed Multimedia at 3.5 GHz," QST, June 2009
K8OCL, "New Amateur Digital Video (ADV) and Revolutionary HSMM-MESH at Ham-Com," CQ-VHF, Summer 2009
W5IFS, "Bringing Digital Radio to Amateur Radio," QEX, September/October 2010
KB9MWR, "Doodle Labs DL-435," TAPR PSR, Winter 2012
W2LNX, "Getting Started: Doodle Labs DL43530 420MHz Broadband Data Radio," TAPR PSR, Spring 2012
W2LNX, "Experimenting with High Speed Wireless Networking in the 420 MHz Band," TAPR DCC 2012
N7XSD, "Web Servers on the HSMM-Mesh," TAPR DCC 2012
AG4IU, "A Broadband Ham Network Crosses the Finish Line," QST July 2013
"Switch less Bidirectional RF Amplifier for 2.4 GHz Wireless Sensor Networks" IJESIT Volume 2, Issue 4, July 2013 
W2TTT, "HSMM-MESH - Networking in Em Comm Applications," CQ, October 2013
W2TTT, "Setting Up a Mesh Network Node," CQ, February 2014
K1CE, "High-Speed Networking - Time to Net Its Benefits," QST April 2014

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