The amateur radio service has a good chunk of the Internet address space, and it's not being used for its intended purpose: a worldwide packet radio network. Meanwhile, the rest of the Internet is crowding into the remaining address space and will no longer have any left in the near future.
It's a chicken-and-egg problem: the necessary digital repeaters aren't available for users, and there are no users to justify building the repeater network.
The cost of the equipment has finally come down to the point where even a modestly funded amateur radio club can afford to set up a small regional network by themselves. Through advocacy and standards development, Noisebridge is building a packet radio network modelled on the original vision of the Hinternet.
Chris Verges, the address maintainer for 44.4/16, has given the go-ahead for allocation of up to a /22 for experimental use of the HSMM gear. The SFBA 44.4/16 allocation is currently two /17s: one is for 1200bps and the other is for 9600bps. Hams are needed to volunteer to maintain radios for the initial allocations in the /22 before it will go through.
During September, Noisebridge members will be touring the SFBA ham clubs and giving presentations at their monthly meeting to gather the necessary volunteers.
The radios will be 802.11-based HSMM gear.
The architecture will be an 802.11s (open80211 implementation) mesh in the backbone, with fixed towers forming the core of the network. Each tower will service a subnet, and each subnet will itself be an 802.11s mesh. Each subnet mesh will be independent of the backbone mesh and all other subnet meshes. Towers will route packets between subnets and filter traffic to ensure compliance with FCC part 97 regulations.
There are three major bands suitable for use by hams transmitting spread spectrum: 420-430 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5.8 GHz. Within a region, one band will be used for tower-to-tower connections, and the other bands will be available for use by non-tower radios.
The initial goal of the first wave of HInternet backbone deployment is to transmit a "golden packet" between New York and San Francisco. Further backbone deployments will concentrate on expanding the network towards the north and the south to cover the rest of the continent.