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How can I properly use my ham radio license to operate an IEEE 802.11 WiFi access point within the US amateur radio service, rather than the US "part 15" regulations for unlicensed transmissions?

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IANAL, but based on my limited knowledge of US amateur radio regulations:

  • Disable all encryption, as encrypted communications are not allowed within the amateur radio service. Yes, WEP counts as encryption, too. So does HTTPS, SSH or SMTP with STARTTLS. One of the few things you can allow is plain-text HTTP.
  • Set the network SSID to your call sign. This should be enough to identify the transmissions.
  • Force select a channel which is within the boundaries of the amateur radio band.

This should put you within the limits of the amateur radio service and allow you to operate the access point under the regulations relevant to amateur radio.

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  • $\begingroup$ Remember that 5 GHz access points will often implement "DFS", so even if you tell them to use a particular frequency, they will move if they detect interference. You'll need to use a non-FCC-restricted access point to actually lock on a particular frequency. (Personally, I have done this with "export" Ubiquiti gear. You'll need to sign a document saying that you will use the equipment for licensed purposes when purchasing it within the US.) $\endgroup$ – Quentin Smith Oct 22 '13 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ According to some, encryption is allowed for control links. Set your AP(s) to require HTTPS (and therefore SSL) to access the configuration interface. hsmm.wikispaces.com/file/detail/… arrl.org/files/file/Regulatory/Part%2097%20-%2004-28-2011.pdf $\endgroup$ – Andrew Beals Oct 22 '13 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ Also, be careful about connecting it to the 'net. You probably Should Not unless you're very familiar with firewalls or are simply tunneling a private network off to another Amateur AP $\endgroup$ – Andrew Beals Oct 22 '13 at 20:00
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All the info you could ever want is being provided on this website..http://hsmm-mesh.org/ They are using WRT54G routers for ham band wifi usage. There is a great community for support and lots of documentation..Type "ham mesh net" into your favorite search engine and you will find many answers.

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    $\begingroup$ This answer will become useless if that site ever goes down, is unavailable or changes its content. You should incorporate the relevant parts in your answer, as well as preferably link directly to the relevant pages for reference only. At least one more of your answers suffers from the same problem. Please review How do I write a good answer? in the Help section. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Oct 25 '13 at 23:16
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In 2006 the ARRL dropped its support for changing the rules to allow digital encryption. The rationale for their decision is that it was already legal.

Their reasoning comes for the following FCC rule:

Part 97 : Sec. 97.105 Control operator duties (a) The control operator must ensure the immediate proper operation of the station, regardless of the type of control.

The ARRL interprets this rule to mean that encryption to ensure the integrity and control of one's operations is legal.

This document explains the entire rationale.

In the United States no Control Operator has ever faced any disciplinary action for encrypting their WIFI transmissions as long as the encryption mode (but not the key) is public.

The article has lots of cautions, for example: Every control operator is still responsible for periodically transmitting their call-sign. It recommends you use your wifi-SSID for that purpose.

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What you could do, and I don't believe this would violate Part 15, would be to use packet (AX.25) to link two 802.11 AP's together. You'd suffer a reduction in speed, most likely - I don't know what the maximum TX speed on packet is, but I doubt it's anything close to WiFi speeds.

There is also High-Speed Multimedia Radio, but I'm not familiar enough with such to comment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_multimedia_radio

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    $\begingroup$ I think UHF AX.25 gets you 9600 bps... and you'd still face the problem on what traffic is allowed on the amateur radio service. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Oct 22 '13 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ That wouldn't be operating an AP under the amateur radio service at all...it would just be using a protocol used by some hams under part 15 rules. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Feb 19 '14 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling AX.25 does not specify per se a physical layer, so it does not impose any speed limit. The 9600 baud speed is a different specification. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Feb 19 '14 at 19:01
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I modified mine for the 2.4ghz section of the ham band but you actually can use encrpytion on there same as DStar radios. The military has been modifying wlan gear available over the counter for military frequencies. I use my wifi router modified to 2.2ghz at first than finally got different parts soldered in to make it use 1.2ghz

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