What is the Amprnet? 

Andy explains in a message to all.

KB9ALN ALL @ WW 2002-10-07 15:27 5511 RE: Amprnet

Hi, everyone.

In this message:

R:021005/0631Z @:WT3V.#JS.NJ.USA.NOAM #:59175 [Lakehurst] $:59175_WT3V

Warren says many things, and chiefly among them was this incorrect information (Much impertinent stuff deleted):

> Hello Bryan and all,

(Snip)

> To the serious side of AmprNet.

> As I said, effectively it's an Internet within the Internet. It is an IP  block reserved for Amater use, SO since >>>IP<<< stands for INTERNET 
> PROVIDER, voila' it's INTERNET. It's simply a block provided free of  charge by the same providers that run the commercial side of things, 
> they just don't demand payment because of our R&Rs. WE GET A FREE RIDE  on the backs of the paying customers.

No, "IP" stands for "Internet Protocol". The infamous acronym "TCP/IP" means "Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol".

TCP/IP is a collection of protocols designed to allow computers to exchange data over a network. No mention is made in the TCP/IP protocol suite of the medium - it can be wires, fibre-optic lines or radio.

A protocol is a mutually agreed-upon method of communications that two computers use to exchange data. Kind of the way that humans use Morse code to exchange information. The protocol is "When I send you a dash and a dot, this means I am sending you the letter N", etc.

Within TCP/IP there are several different protocols, each used to provide  a particular service. There's one for mail, called smtp (simple mail  transfer protocol), one for web page service called http (Hyper text  transfer protocol) and bunch of others for various different services.

Now to the nature of the amprnet. Warren seems to be of the opinion that all amprnet activity takes place over the internet. Not true. We have an extensive network in Wisconsin that routes TCP/IP traffic over a portion of the state. All connected via radio. I had an amprnet station long before I got internet service and still maintain a station (that provides web serving over the radio, smtp and pop mail, amongst other services).

The challenge that many of us take is to make these services available via the radio, which is something that you have been pounding on for quite a  while, Warren. These are services that would be difficult or impossible to provide if one strictly relied on standard AX.25 operation (AX.25 is also a protocol, a limited and poorly functional one at that).

The now-defunct North East Digital Association had several participants in the northeastern U.S. and Southeastern Canada that used TCP/IP to forward mail, using the NNTP protocol (network news transfer protocol) and they did it almost exclusively by radio. This is nothing new, this was done several years ago, as a matter of fact.

In fact, the term "amprnet" means "Amateur Packet Radio Network". Notice the "radio" part of that.

You might think of Amateur TCP/IP operation as the forerunner of today's wireless networking. The difference is that the whole point is to have a seperate amprnet that could easily interface with the internet if needed. However, the content of the internet always has been an issue, so a direct connection is not often employed.

Your assertion that the Internet Service Providers all got together and decided that we would be a suitable charity case is also incorrect. Back when the 44. block of addresses was reserved for Amateur Radio, the internet was not even public, was primarily influenced by the government and was administered by non-profit entities. In fact, there was no such thing as an Internet Service Provider - the internet was inhabited by the government, some universities, and a few high-technology corporations with deep pockets. The public did not have access to the internet the way we do now. Amateur Radio was seen as a scientific and technical pursuit, so we were a natural to participate in what was then a great experiment. And to do it with radio.

In fact, the original DARPANET project that gave birth to the internet (and subsequently the technology behind packet radio) had a very important radio element to it. Some of the original experiments took place in  Hawaii, and the goal was to interconnect computers on the islands without wires.

Why should anyone be interested in or concerned about the "amprnet"? Anyone who has recently worked with emergency communications in amateur radio probably knows that a good deal of the traffic generated by participating relief agencies is internet E-Mail. Like any other communications system, it is subject to failure. Hams can provide a missing link that is more capable and easier to implement than standard BBS messaging with amprnet stations. Same internet capability, only with radio completing the missing links. To the users, it would look seamless.  All it would take is for some network administrator to plug a cable into a router and their internet connection would be complete, as far as they are concerned. No converting messages to the BBS Format and no training participants to use a arcane system that they wouldn't otherwise use. And that is what amateur radio emergency communications is all about - making it easier on other people.

To sum this up, the Amprnet is a lot different than Warren (and I suspect the most of the rest of the hamming public) thinks it is. It is radio and is capable of much more than you'd think.

73, 

Andy Nemec
Amateur Network Addresses:
amprnet - [email protected]
AX.25 - [email protected]#GRB.WI.USA.NOAM

Back to the WAPR Home Page and Index

Browse the News Archives