One of the reasons that Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) exists is to manage – and encourage the use of – 44Net (also known as AMPRNet), the IP address space allocated to amateur radio. This space consists of about 12 million IPv4 addresses (184.108.40.206/9 and 220.127.116.11/10) and is used exclusively by radio amateurs for scientific research and experimentation with digital communications.
In early 2022, ARDC contracted with Two P, a consultancy with expertise in networking and systems management, to determine who is using 44Net and how they are using it. Two P’s first step was to conduct a survey of current users and potential users to get some basic data. They then conducted multiple focus groups to dive deeper into the data. Their report – ARDC 44Net Assessment Results – characterizes 44Net users, details the applications and services that run on 44Net, and comments on ARDC’s stewardship of 44Net.
The report goes into some detail on the methodology used and the results they produced. Here are some demographic highlights:
- There were 1,536 usable responses to the survey, many more than we expected.
- 99% of the respondents were licensed radio amateurs.
- Just under half (762) had no prior relationship with ARDC.
- The respondents are fairly active. 34.8% replied that they engage in amateur radio activities daily, 34.0% replied that they engage a few times per week, and 16.0% said that they engage at least once per week.
The technical sophistication of the respondents was quite high. Approximately two-thirds identified themselves as an experimenter, hacker, or maker, and many identified themselves as a computer engineer or network engineer.
Although many of the respondents were not currently 44Net users, the survey asked those who were a number of questions about how they used 44Net. The most frequently-run application or service was DNS and FTP, closely followed by web and email. Other widely used services included remote operations and repeater infrastructure.
￼In addition, many users are using 44Net for networks such as HAMNET and WAMNet. Other networking applications, such as AREDN are not currently using 44Net, but they are popular and growing. Another interesting result of the survey is that 48.6% are using RF links as part of their 44Net usage.
Since we were interested in how we can better support our 44Net users, we had Two P ask questions to see what they could find out. Most users were neutral when asked if current ARDC policies meet their needs:
When asked about what improvements that ARDC might implement to make 44Net easier to use, respondents asked for:
- Easier/modern connectivity (NAT44 compatible)
- Easier/turn-key software (embedded SBC image)
- Better documentation and training events
There is, of course, much more detailed information in the report. If you’re interested in 44Net, we encourage you to read it and contact us with any feedback that you may have. One way to do this would be to subscribe to the 44Net mailing list, if you haven’t done so already. And of course you can always send your questions to email@example.com