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Amateur Radio and I’net backup: Egypt

The I’net blackout in Egypt has people thinking about ways to circumvent such behavior. PC World has some ideas about how to get I’net access when your government shuts it down. The options mention ad hoc WiFi, dial-up, and amateur radio.

You could also take inspiration from groups that are working to create an ad-hoc communications network into and out of Egypt using Ham Radio, since the signals are rarely tracked and extremely hard to shut down or block. Most of these efforts are still getting off the ground, but hackers are already cobbling together ways to make it a viable form of communication into and out of the country.

What with mode, bandwidth, and other restrictions, the amateur radio community has been pre-empted by the government over the years. The development went towards the commercial environment. Packet radio and digital modes are still stuck at data rates and capabilities they had in the late seventies. APRS is one of the few new networking ideas and it is hamstrung by restrictions to being only a simple ‘text messaging’ type of service.

Yes, some ARO’s have reprogrammed WiFi routers under amateur licensing but there remains no network of any scope. Consider the utility metering systems being implemented that use telemetry for an entire community as a contrary example. Most amateur radio network applications function through an I’net gateway rather than use a packet relay system or whatever. Even the ancient radio relay traffic still uses voice and cw for distance communications.

Certainly, the government is not going to endorse and encourage technologies and efforts that enable and encourage insurrection and revolt but many of the same problems can occur in other scenarios that AR is intended to solve. The problem is that communications have advanced from one-on-one direct linkages to network linkages. With packet, AR was there – then – but it has been left behind.

Maybe the Egyptian ARO’s will stimulate some ideas and thinking?

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