What is ARDC?
Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) is a private foundation whose roots are in amateur radio and the technology of internet communication. Our mission is to support, promote, and enhance digital communication and broader communication science and technology, to promote amateur radio, scientific research, experimentation, education, development, open access, and innovation in information and communication technology.
How did ARDC get started?
Our story started in 1981 when Hank Magnuski, KA6M, requested a block of IP addresses for use by licensed amateur radio operators worldwide. Magnuski had the foresight to see that internet-style networking would be the future and wanted the emerging amateur radio packet network to be able to participate. In answer to that request, Magnuski was assigned the class A 44/8 netblock of 16.7 million IP addresses.
A group of volunteers informally administered this block of addresses, which was called AMPRNet, then later 44Net. ARDC was founded in October 2011 by the volunteers at the time, notably Brian Kantor, as a California nonprofit. The organization formally took over ownership and management of the address space.
How did ARDC acquire such a big netspace?
In 1981, there was little demand for network space and large swaths of netspace were easily obtained.
So, how did ARDC get into the grants business?
In mid-2019, ARDC sold the 188.8.131.52/10 block of addresses, which includes about four million contiguous addresses. With the proceeds, ARDC established the endowment that we use to fund our grants program. In 2020, ARDC went from being a public charity to a private foundation.
How much money did you get for the addresses that were sold?
You can find this information in our 2019 Audited Financial Statements and tax return (IRS Form 990).
Who bought the addresses?
A very big company with a significant internet presence.
Why did you sell?
IPv4 addresses have become scarce and are incredibly valuable to companies that have not yet begun using IPv6 addresses. But, as the use of IPv6 addresses becomes more widespread, the value of IPv4 addresses will decline. It was clear that the amateur radio community wasn’t ever going to use the entire 44.192/10 block. Selling this block while the addresses were still valuable has allowed us to fund many worthwhile amateur radio and internet projects.
Who decided to sell these? I didn’t get to vote on it.
After discussing this for more than a year, the ARDC Board of Directors (all licensed radio amateurs) made the unanimous decision to sell the addresses. We would have liked to make the process more public, but all the potential buyers demanded confidentiality for such a large transaction.
Aren’t radio amateurs going to need those addresses someday?
It’s unlikely. We have never used more than half of the 16 million addresses in the 44/8 block, and there are still more than 12 million addresses available for amateur radio use. Furthermore, it’s clear that IPv6 is the future, meaning that not only will IPv4 addresses decline in value, but they will no longer be needed.
What are you doing with the money?
We have established a program of grants and scholarships that promote and support amateur radio and digital communications science. We are also using some of that money to pay professionals to provide a more consistent level of service to 44Net/AMPRNet users. Previously, this work had been done by volunteers.
How can I get a grant?
ARDC makes grants that align with our mission to support amateur radio and digital communication science and technology. Your project must also align with our goals and be in at least one of of the following categories:
- support and growth of amateur radio,
- education, and
- research and development.
In addition, your organization must be one of the following:
- U.S.-based 501(c)(3) Public Charity, government agency, school, or university.
- International charity, nonprofit, school, or university.
- Radio clubs and groups who are NOT nonprofits may be eligible if they have a U.S.-based, nonprofit fiscal sponsor. If you have questions about finding a fiscal sponsor, please contact us.
- Individuals may be eligible if you work with a fiscal sponsor.
For more information, and to begin the application process, go to https://www.ardc.net/apply/.
Who are the recipients of your grants?
See https://www.ardc.net/grants/ to see a list of grants that we’ve funded.
Who decides who gets grants?
Once you’ve submitted your grant application, it goes to our Grants Advisory Committee (GAC). The GAC will evaluate your application along with all the other applications that have been submitted in a particular grant cycle and decide on which to send to the ARDC Board of Directors for final approval. The Board then has the final say as to which applications get grants and which do not.
44Net / AMPRNet
What is 44Net?
44Net, aka AMPRNet, refers to the internet address space, managed by ARDC. It originally comprised more than sixteen million IPv4 addresses, 184.108.40.206 through 220.127.116.11, conventionally written as 18.104.22.168/8. As noted above, it now comprises approximately 12 million IPv4 addresses after the sale of the 22.214.171.124/10 block in 2019.
Who can request 44Net IP addresses?
Any licensed radio amateur who is interested in experimenting with radio-based digital networking using internet protocols can request addresses.
What can I do with 44Net?
You can experiment with amateur radio-based networking. It’s not a substitute for buying internet access from an ISP. The details of what you are and are not permitted to do are set forth in the network’s Terms of Service.
How do I join the network?
Methods vary. These days, most 44Net/ participants run a Linux system as a router having one or more radio ports, and perhaps a connection to their home Internet equipment. Links may be internet tunnels, medium or high-speed radio, converted wireless access points, or a combination of these. See the Quickstart Guide for more information.
What does it cost?
There is no charge for participation.