Some of you may remember the age of Citizen’s Band radios or CB radio several decades ago. Each user had a handle which was the equivalent of a username on the Internet. Or you may remember experimenting with a ham radio which is a form of amateur radio. These forms of communication actually represent early wireless Internet via radio signals and are still used by enthusiasts today.
Amateur radio communications are an early form of wireless Internet because this type of technology uses a series of radio towers similar to cell phone towers. Like cellular communication the towers are located throughout the world to enable ham radio enthusiasts to communicate with one another.
One of the drawbacks of using a radio for communications is that the signal is only able to transmit for a specified distance. This makes it kind of tricky when it comes to establishing a line of communication with someone across the globe. In an effort to overcome this obstacle, ham radio users take advantage of the solar cycle and the ionosphere to improve long distance communications.
The ionosphere is a portion of the earth’s atmosphere which affects radio signals depending upon the amount of solar radiation that produces ionization. Without going into a long scientific explanation the radio waves are transmitted higher into this portion of the earth’s atmosphere to improve long distance communication. By using the Internet radio enthusiasts have been able to create more reliable long distance communications.
How Radio Internet Works
Since radio communication waves are transmitted via towers ham radio enthusiasts have been able to extend the range of communication via the use of the Internet. The towers act as repeaters similar to a wireless repeater that is used to extend the range of a WiFi connection by providing a stronger signal to improve communications.
Radio operators establish communications over the Internet by connecting a computer that has access to the Internet to each tower. This improves the distance for communication in terms of reliability and reach and allows radio operators to use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) via the Internet connection..
Connecting Radio Transceivers to the Internet
For radio operators that use their own transceiver at home it is necessary to be within a specific distance of the nearest tower or base station. This is the traditional method of establishing communications with a ham radio. Since the inception of the Internet radio enthusiasts have made several attempts at developing software that is designed to connect a radio transceiver to the Internet eliminating the need to access the nearest transmission tower. A few of the attempts have been successful where others were not as successful.
Setting up a radio transceiver to access the Internet works like this: The transceiver is connected to your home computer sound card. The software that is designed to communicate with the transceiver and the transmission tower is installed on your computer with the purpose of searching for transmission towers or repeater base stations. The higher end software is capable of searching for towers across the globe which opens up more options for radio operators to communicate without having to be close to the nearest tower. Some of the software also allows radio operators to communicate with other users via the computer.
Radio Internet and WiFi
WiFi is very similar to radio Internet as it requires a transceiver to enable transmission and reception of data and communications. Just like the CB radio and ham radio the antenna should also be able to send and receive signals and is commonly included in wireless cards or as an external device.
WiFi also relates to radio through the use of a codec which is a standard used to convert data to a radio signal for electronic transmission. Codecs are also responsible for taking a radio signal and converting it to data for reciprocal transmission. Since WiFi uses radio signals it is also susceptible to interference similar to the interruptions experienced by ham radio depending upon the time of year and the solar cycle.
When you consider the different technologies that have been around for decades beginning with the invention of the radio, the Internet represents the second generation of some of these older technologies. Although WiFi seems like a new technology its concept has already been in use with the generation of ham radio and CB radio operation. And while the radio enthusiasts are still around the radio signals that they live by are the new generation of communication and the force behind wireless and more recently, 3G and 4G technologies.