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I've been reading about HInternet a bit, and all explanations I find are detailed technical explanations. I have no idea who pays for internet connectivity, where the internet sources from, etc. Just articles about the frequencies used and prettymuch all that's on the wiki page. From what I read, I am imagining people connected to a wired internet connection, transmitting that service over long distances with big towers, and also locally with beefed up wifi routers.
Would users need a HAM license to connect to this? Would it be free or paid service? Is my mental image of this correct?

I stumbled upon the concept in search of free/cheap internet for an invention I hope to sell about 4 million of. If there's a way I can use it, great, if there's a way I can help it grow big (since it seems to need help) awesome. I just need to figure out what it really is first to see if I can do anything with it.

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Eventually someone somewhere would have to provide a connection to the Internet proper to route anything there and back again, yes. In practice, the Hinternet behaves like the Internet but is functional (like a home WiFi network without an active Internet connection) without it in that devices can talk to each other (just not with Internet devices if there's no route out thereto).

In order to access the Hinternet you do need to be a licensed ham as you're using ham equipment / RF to form your link to the network over which you can then pass data via TCP/IP.

In short, the Hinternet refers to the same technologies that power the Internet employed by hams using ham equipment, forming essentially a WiFi network over longer distances with ham radios using Amateur parts of the spectrum.

I believe (but definitely fact-check) a Technician license is all you need to join the fun, which is easy enough (with study) to obtain that at least one new ham between 9 and 12 passes their Tech in my area (Southern Virginia) a month. So go for it! :-)

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! I'm currently studying on hamstudy.org for a license. Do you have any idea if there are laws (or ethics) against using it for commercial/business use? I don't know a whole lot about radio but from what I read, free internet/communication is easily possible, the only questions are is there a legal way that doesn't eat up a lot of bandwidth that other people might want. $\endgroup$ – Nathan Darker Aug 18 '16 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, Amateur radio (as mentioned in the Technician study guide) is emphatically not to be used for commercial endeavors (Google "amateur radio pecuniary interest" and you should find lots about this). You also shouldn't try to use the Hinternet as a substitute for your own connection - lots of reasons but at least consider the burden placed on "hogging" bandwidth and being an uninvited guest on someone's home connection. Also, in the future, post separate questions as new questions per the site rules. :-) $\endgroup$ – user157 Aug 18 '16 at 18:58
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The Hinternet is the "ham internet". In the US, and likely in other countries also, several WiFi channels fall into the 13cm ham band; being in the ham band is advantageous because licensed hams can use higher power than non-licensed ISM (industrial, scientific, medical) band users. So the hinternet generally refers to hams using WiFi gear, often with modified firmware and higher power, to communicate.

There are restrictions on what hams can communicate, however. Hams aren't allowed to pass any messages for commercial use, including advertising. Hams aren't allowed to broadcast entertainment. Hams are allowed to pass messages for other people, but if the other people are in other countries then the other countries must explicitly permit such messages. (Most first-world countries do.) Hams aren't allowed to encrypt over-the-air messages. Curse words aren't allowed. Hams must send their call signs periodically when transmitting.

Because of these restrictions, hams can't just connect a router on the ham bands running higher power to the regular internet and call it good. Generally ham radio communication has to be from a ham, to another ham, with the content either generated by the transmitting ham, or at least carefully monitored by the transmitting ham if the content is a recording. Sorry if this bursts your bubble. Hams are doing some interesting stuff with this technology though; for instance, hams are reprogramming WRT54G routers to make ad-hoc mesh networks transmitting sound, video, and data. If this sounds interesting to you, you could get started with just a Technician-class license, which isn't too difficult to earn; we could point you in the right direction.

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  • $\begingroup$ After hearing about modifying routers, I was wondering if having a liscense would allow me to beef up my router for home use, but that probably violates content/usage laws. My project doesn't strictly have to be HAM, doesn't even have to be radio, also it's unnecessary extra. I just want like... 100 mile radius of free communication if possible. HAM is a good start for learning about this stuff, and its still good learning if I don't figure something out for it. I am actually interested in the ad-hoc network. Thank you btw. $\endgroup$ – Nathan Darker Aug 18 '16 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ Link to the reference source is broken. It redirects to several sites and looks like a browser hijack. Removed. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Oct 2 '18 at 20:47

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