Operating under Part 97 of the FCC rules comes with some constraints on how the network can be used and what can be information can be communicated over it. Because of these rules and constraints, reasonable protections will need to be put into place to prevent both unauthorized use of the network by unlicensed individuals as well as unauthorized communications over the system by legitimately licensed operators.
FCC rules state that "An amateur station shall not intentionally obscure the meaning of a transmission".
Does this mean that encryption is not allowed? Some would argue that this is debatable, and that encryption and coding schemes are allowed, provided that there is public documentation as to how a scheme works. For example, the ARRL HSMM working group recommended that a standard, publicly documented WEP key be used to prevent unauthorized control of Part 97 equipment by users of Part 15 licensed equipment.
"Alternative" Radio Services
FCC Part 97, section 113(a)(5) rules also stipulate that:
- (a) No amateur station shall transmit:
- (5) Communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be furnished alternatively through other radio services.
Does this mean that providing Internet access over amateur radio is competing with commercial IP transit? Again, some would argue that this is debatable.
With these constraints in mind, it may be prudent to design nodes to filter non-compliant traffic, or create applications (and maybe protocols) to facilitate legal communication.
For example, we could create and use MDNS over multicast IP to announce which stations are reachable, and which modes they can communicate with (voice over SIP/RTP, video over SIP/RTP, text over IRC, etc.).
Ideally, this could become a point-and-click application for amateur stations. Sort of an ALE (Automatic Link Establishment) for IP communications.