The "Layer 2 Club"

The Concept

Like the RF Database Website project, this project is the brainchild of the primary author Trevor Marvin. When writing in the first person, that is who I’m referring to... myself. If you have not familiarized yourself with my RF Database Website project, read the introduction here.

There are many more choices for wireless Ethernet hardware now than there have ever been before, and many of them are within the financial reach of most people. I am preferential the the Ubiquiti brand and line of products due to their cost and performance, but this project goes beyond their products and is aimed at any thing that facilitates an Ethernet network connection.

There are various other projects that aim to connect users, computers, and other devices, with the common computer networking protocols. Many of these projects focus at Layer 3; but in doing so, they limit the participants in their network, maybe to the point of not having the critical mass of users necessary to have a decently functioning network.

I have seen this very effect in users around me. Various groups have interests in only particular Layer 3 operations and thus have issues in building out a network.

Thus, I present the concept of the Layer 2 Club. The focus is to build out a network of Ethernet devices and allow the users the option to participate in whatever Layer 3 operation they care to over the network. In doing so, disparate groups of people can attain the critical mass necessary to have enough functioning infrastructure to have a useful system.

Due to limitations in routing of Ethernet and typical Ethernet devices, the size of each "Club", or operational group, would be limited. A typical network would be limited to about a thousand devices that were actually generating and receiving traffic. (This does not necessarily include the radio devices, as they would generally not generate or terminate traffic.)

Additionally, there are issues with fully meshing the infrastructure, due to the Ethernet protocol. Barring deployment of special protocols, the network would be star topology and meshed routes would happen at Layer 3.

I envision that a typical club would cover a city or metro are and involve a group of people that would at least be acquaintance to each-other. A club may hold meetings for operational discussions, training, and self-policing.

Users would generally be free to utilize the infrastructure to pass Layer 3 traffic to other nodes on the network. They could also bridge said Layer 3 traffic to other clubs or services, essentially joining multiple networks in a way that was not encumbered by the limits in Ethernet network scaling. Members would be expected to not expose Layer 3 addresses to the infrastructure that were not officially sanctioned by their Club.

There is a special consideration in this for AREDN. While the tools I have built could be useful in managing the Layer 3 name-space in an AREDN network; I, personally, am not interest in operating an AREDN network nor utilizing the special spectrum available to them due to the no-encryption requirements of said spectrum. The security of most communication protocols that were built for the Internet is contingent on TLS and encryption, and I believe that it is unwise to try to divorce those protocols from that critical component of their design.

I do, however, invite users to utilize this Layer 2 Club structure and provided management tools for AREDN operations, if they feel so inclined. I also am open to members running AREDN traffic over any Layer 2 Club that I am involved in, as I intend to operate all my devices in the ISM frequency bands. Thus, any Layer 2 Club that contained links on the special Amateur licensed bands would likely need to be exclusively AREDN or Amateur compliant traffic.

I envision that some users will have nodes connected to more than one club and with bridge traffic between clubs, albeit at Layer 3 only.

The Management Tools

The RF Database Website project contains a special set of functions for managing such a club as described above. Certain components of these tools link to devices described in the main site, often the RF Ethernet devices.

Within this special section, there is the concept of a Layer 2 Club. This is an organizational group that can have multiple managers. Membership and certain functions are controlled by those managers.

A Club will usually define a range (or more) of IP address space that will be allowed and managed on the infrastructure. These will often be from the non-routable private network space. (Typically In doing so, this allows members common and easy configuration for devices communicating or the network. This may be of IPv4 or IPv6 space.

Users could be required to register devices with their device’s Ethernet MAC address through the website tools. This will be for accountability of the Club, if the Club wished to exert such control.

Users will request and receive a slice (or more) of the IP space that the Club has declared. The users are then free to utilize addresses out of their allocation for their devices to communicate over the network. The website tools provide a mechanism for users to declare the devices using each address, if the Club determines that such is required.

There additionally are optional DNS registration services within the website tools. This allows users to register DNS entries related to the IP addresses within the Club and have such served on a DNS server connected to the infrastructure for the convenience that many expect. The configuration for the Club includes specifying a domain of which all these entries will be part of. It is presumed that this domain is unique and mutually exclusive with the Internet at large, or within a name-space that does not conflict with the Internet.