Grant: Oregon HamWAN Backbone Project 2021

Grant Date: May 2021
Amount: $88,391

This grant was awarded to fund the deployment of HamWAN in Oregon. Oregon HamWAN will deploy 12 HamWAN backbone distribution sites between Portland and Salem, Oregon to extend the Puget Sound Data Ring, which currently extends from Seattle to Vancouver Washington, from Vancouver Washington to Salem Oregon, plus additional equipment for education and demonstration purposes.

What is HamWAN?
HamWAN is a technology that supports high speed Internet connectivity (over 100 Mbps between backbone distribution sites, and up to 10 Mbps to each client node) over amateur radio using the 5.8 GHz band. Since HamWAN requires line of site communication, an effective HamWAN network requires deployment of HamWAN backbone distribution sites on towers. HamWAN supports a range of up to 50 miles between towers.

The value of HamWAN comes from the ability of amateur radio operators to set up mobile or portable HamWAN nodes, which can be aimed toward the nearest HamWAN Distribution Site to provide emergency communication via Internet during disasters. Such a mobile or portable setup requires HamWAN equipment costing less than $100, as well as an inexpensive WiFi router and a 12 Volt battery.

The Oregon HamWAN
Each HamWAN site typically consists of three HamWAN Distribution Sectors, each offering 120 degrees of coverage, and typically one or more point to point links. A HamWAN site may also include a server supporting email, web, IP telephones, etc., and may include an Internet gateway (hardwired or satellite). Every HamWAN site will include provisions for good emergency power. The KOIN TV Tower Site in particular offers unlimited Rack Space and its generators can power the site for two weeks without re-fueling. New network servers will be located there.

Oregon is at extreme risk of a major Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. In the hours immediately following a disaster, when the Internet, landline, and cell phone communication is likely to be disrupted, effective communication between volunteers, first responders, hospitals, and government agencies is critical. Amateur radio has always played a vital role. Unfortunately, voice communication is slow, and traditional digital communication such as Winlink has severely limited bandwidth. The ability of amateur radio operators to setup portable HamWAN nodes throughout affected communities, and communicate effectively via email, including attachments, will add tremendous value.

Since Oregon HamWAN plans to install servers at the KOIN TV tower, they will be able to provide email service within the disaster area even if all outside Internet connectivity is lost. Their web server will host maps, personnel directories, and other high value documents that might otherwise be unavailable during a disaster. Allowing those who are not licensed amateur radio operators to speak directly with one another using VOIP telephones will provide additional value.

Find out more about Oregon HamWan at