You are here

Who can use the mesh?

9 posts / 0 new
Last post
KE0RSX
KE0RSX's picture
Who can use the mesh?

Hi, everyone,

I realize this may have been answered somewhere else, and may belong in a different forum altogether but here goes. Our Emergency Coordinator sent a couple of emails out to the local EMA and City Council members inquiring about putting nodes on towers owned by them. In the email, he mentioned that only licensed amateur radio operators can use the mesh network. Before we go too much further, I want to clarify who, aside from ARES members (and other licensed Amateur Radio operators) can use the mesh? And what can they do over it? I realize that any commercial applications are against Part 97 (within reason). I'm looking at ideas we can use to convince them to let us utilize their towers. Kind of a "you scratch our back, and we'll scratch yours" type of thing.

So, I guess my questions (for now at least) are:
Can the EMA and their affiliates use the system?
What applications can they use on it (email, file/print, video conferencing, phone, etc)?
Can we (licensed amateurs and ARES members) use it for DMR/D-Star and other digital radio use (realizing that we won't have Internet)?
Are there any restrictions on the content of emails, files, video/phone that would apply to the EMA and their affiliates?

Any other suggestions that we could use to entice them would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, and have a great day. :)
Patrick.

P.S. if this needs to move to another subforum, please let me know (or if you can move it, I'd appreciate that).
 

nc8q
nc8q's picture
Who can use the mesh?

The first reason for the existence of the Amateur Radio Service; Part 97.1 (a).

Let us consider 3rd party communications within the jurisdiction of the US of A.
IMHO, the most limiting rule is 97.115 (b)(1)
The control operator is present at the control point and is continuously monitoring and
supervising the third party's participation; and
[+/-: the 3rd party didn't have their ham radio license revoked].

"Can the EMA and their affiliates use the system?"
If 'use' means cause transmissions, then with a control operator present, yes.
Without a control operator:
Make mesh IP calls, no. Answer mesh IP calls, uh, err, hmmmm.

"Can we (licensed amateurs and ARES members) use it for DMR/D-Star and
other digital radio use (realizing that we won't have Internet)?"

Of course. It is a given that the internet may be down in a disaster affected area,
however if the mesh network is up and at least one mesh station has internet access,
the internet is accessible from the mesh network.

"Are there any restrictions on the content of emails, files, video/phone
that would apply to the EMA and their affiliates?"

Not by the FCC.

"Any other suggestions that we could use to entice them would be greatly appreciated."

Until a control operator is on-site:

They could turn on (a) ham transceiver(s) and listen to the net(s) report dangerous conditions
to life, limb, or property.
...

Since we are comfortable with mesh devices and raspberry pis and
Since the general public is comfortable using smart phones...
Wouldn't it be cool if anyone with a softphone app on their smart phone
could connect to a mesh wifi device at a fire station or EOC or ...
and direct dial by an abbreviated generally accepted network identifier?
Like
BTFS5 for Beaver Township Fire Station 5 or
COLRC for Columbus Red Cross or
WCEOC for Washington County Emergency Operations Center.

Chuck

N7TZK
Control operator needed?
quoted:
"Can the EMA and their affiliates use the system?"
If 'use' means cause transmissions, then with a control operator present, yes.
Without a control operator:
Make mesh IP calls, no. Answer mesh IP calls, uh, err, hmmmm.

Chuck,
I agree with much of what you say, but I don't know that I agree making a mesh IP call is the same thing as pushing the PTT.  AREDN is transmitting all of the time... is it not?  All that initiating a VoIP call does is change the quantity and nature of the data.  The phone user isn't starting or stopping a transmission, altering its frequency, modulation mode (usually anyway... and not knowingly), etc.  All of those choices were done by the hams that configured and powered up the AREDN.

My bigger concern tends to be regarding encryption.  It can be a bit of a challenge to avoid encryption when dealing with data.  And likely to become more so with the Googles of the world enforcing their notion of what is "good for us" on us (the government isn't the only "nanny state"). In some cases, I don't even  have a practical way to know IF I'm sending encrypted data.  For instance, in a good faith attempt to get around the encryption issue, we use VNC to remote control a web browser at the AREDN perimeter, and said browser can then encrypt all it wants talking to the Internet.  But... just because I THINK I have VNC configured to NOT be encrypted... how would I know if indeed it was encrypted?  My skill set allows me to monitor packet traffic and tell the difference between telnet and SSH.  But I can't make sense of the data I see from VNC wether it is encrypted or not.

Dave
N4JJ
Who can use the mesh?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding MESH networking, but . . .

I think it depends how you have your mesh network configured. For instance, if you are using channel 1, that channel is already used by the router as configured by the manufacturer. It is not an exclusive ham radio frequency. Why would a non-ham be forbidden from using a mesh node on that channel/frequency?

Any guidance would be appreciated.

nc8q
nc8q's picture
ARDEN mesh firmware

"Why would a non-ham be forbidden from using a mesh node on that channel/frequency?"

? With AREDN firmware installed on a device, it is no longer Part 15 compliant. ?

K6AH
K6AH's picture
Unless you are lawyers...

AREDN firmware doesn't make Part 15 unusable for 3rd-party traffic.  In my opinion, it's your callsign in the Node Name field which makes it fall under Part 97.  And if you look up the definition of "present" it includes the synonym "available".  A control operator can be "available" to control the station remotely.  All of this is open for interpretation, so I would suggest, that unless any of you are lawyers, you are going to need to interpret the rules on your own.

There are hams, who interpret Part 97 to allow encryption, allow 3-party traffic.

Let's not make blanket statements, on either side.

Andre, K6AH
 

AE6XE
AE6XE's picture
"? With AREDN firmware

"? With AREDN firmware installed on a device, it is no longer Part 15 compliant. ?"

Probably the device's 'certification' wouldn't apply any more.   But this doesn't prevent operating the device legally under part 15 regulations, read further below.  The FCC 'certifies' devices for the purpose to sell a product in the US.   AREDN firmware or any open source firmware on such a device doesn't need to be certified as such, since there isn't a commercial aspect.   

For such devices with open source firmware, the owner or operator would be responsible for keeping the emissions Part 15 compliant, or subject to FCC enforcement. 

In the FCC 2016 enforcement of tplink violations allowing excessive power on a device outside part 15 regulations, tplink was required to specifically enable and allow open source firmware to be installed on their device(s).    The FCC could not (would not) have given this ruling if they considered this device unusable within the Part 15 regulations by the installation of open source firmware.  AREDN firmware can be used same as the numerous users of OpenWrt and DD-WRT firmware operating within the part 15 landscape.   

How a device is designated or known to be operating under part 97 or part 15 is another discussion - and Andre has identified the AREDN recommend approach by using a callsign.   We have some work to do as we'd need a way to independently designate, e.g. an hAP ac lite, to be both part 97 mesh 2GHz, and part 15 on 5GHz with an Access Point...

Ref:  https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db0801/DOC-340564A1.pdf

"WASHINGTON, August 1, 2016 – The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau has reached a $200,000 settlement with TP-Link, resolving an investigation into certain Wi-Fi routers that were not in full compliance with Commission rules pertaining to power levels. As part of the settlement, TP-Link has agreed to adopt robust compliance measures to ensure that its existing and future Wi-Fi routers are in compliance. TP-Link has also agreed to work with the open-source community and Wi-Fi chipset manufacturers to enable consumers to install third-party firmware on their Wi-Fi routers."

Joe AE6XE

W6RUF
W6RUF's picture
Why have it?

If you want to provide WiFi service on a non-ham band, why have it at all?
If you use ham frequencies, you comply with part 97.  Period.

KE0RSX
KE0RSX's picture
A little clarification maybe

I've read through the comments, and think I need to clarify how our system is set up. We're going to have a wired switch connected to one node in our communications trailer. It's also connected to a printer and whatever other computers are in use there. The AREDN nodes will provide the link between sites using Channel -1 or -2 (so we can use the higher power allowed). On another site, we'll have a wireless router that is using the Part 15 capable channels to provide wired/wireless access to laptops and phones and whatever else is there. This might happen at multiple sites as well. One use would be having multiple stations set up for field day, for example.

In theory, we'll have Internet access through one of the nodes. But in the event of a major disaster, that may not be the case. So all of my questions were pertaining to this being a closed off Intranet, without Internet access at all (or the only Internet access being that it uses DtD to connect to other AREDN mesh networks).

My questions were meant to clarify whether the EMA and their representatives could connect to the wireless routers (or our wired switch in the comm trailer) and use it to communicate with each other via email, digital phone, mesh chat, VoIP, etc; and whether or not anyone had gotten a Digital system using hotspots and/or repeaters to connect and communicate via the mesh (without Internet access).

I'm looking at it from the angle that we're trying to use city-owned resources for the mesh (water towers, radio towers, etc). And I'm not sure how telling them it's a system that only amateur radio operators can use will help our cause. But, being able to tell them that if their Internet is down, they have this system available and maintained by us might.

Have a great day. :)
Patrick.

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer