Amateur Radio Emergency Services Association (ARES)

 Sumter County, Florida

National Traffic System (NTS)

ITS Purpose

The National Traffic System is a means for systematizing amateur traffic-handling facilities by making a structure available for an integrated traffic facility designed to achieve the utmost in two principle objectives. 

  1. Rapid movement of traffic from origin to destination.

  2. Training amateur operators to handle written traffic and participate in directed nets.

Traffic activities in a section are coordinated and overseen by the ARRL Section Traffic Manager who is appointed by the ARRL Section Manager. 

Amateur Operators from the three Florida ARRL Sections (Northern, West Central, Southern Florida) participate in several unified State wide traffic net on 40 and 80 meters on a daily basis.  This has been done by mutual agreements for over fifty year.  Sumter and Lake counties are in the Northern Section. 

Florida NTS Net on HF

Time EST/EDT Net Name Frequency
0655 Florida Phone Traffic Net (FPTN) 3940 LSB
0730 (Saturday Only) ARRL Information Net (AIN) 3940 LSB
0900 (Mon-Sat) North Florida ARES Net (NFAN) 3950 LSB (Alt 7242 LSB)
1200 Florida Mid-Day Traffic Net (Mid-Day) 7242 LSB
1745 Tropical Phone Traffic Net/FAST 3940 or 7242 LSB
1830 Florida Medium Speed Net 3651 or 7051 CW
1830 (Winter), 1930(Summer) Northern Florida Phone Net 3950 LSB
1900 All Florida CW Net (QFN) 3547 or 7051 CW
2200 All Florida CW Net (QFN) 3547 CW
2230 Florida Amateur Sideband Net-LATE 3940 SSB

Florida NTS Net on VHF/UHF

Time EST/EDT Net Name-Location Frequency
1830  SPARC Daily Net (St Petersburg/Tampa) 147.060 (+)
2030  Eagle Net NI4CE


ARRL Information: NTS System and how it operates  (web)

ARRL PowerPoint Tutorial (ppt)

NTS Manual - 2015 (pdf)

NTS Traffic Handler Training (web)

Official Relay Stations

Individuals who would like to handle traffic are encouraged to apply for the Official Relay Station (ORS) Appointment.  Contact the Section Traffic Manager or the Section Manage for more information on becoming an QRS.

Local and Section Nets

Local nets are those which cover small areas such as a community, city, or county.  They usually operate by VHF at times and on days most convenient to their members.  Some are designated as emergency" (ARES) nets that do not specialize in traffic handling. Local nets are intended mainly for local delivery of traffic.

Organizational and procedural lines begin to tighten at the section net level.  Coverage of the section may be accomplished eith by individual stations reporting, by representatives of NTS local nets and nodes, or both.  Ordinarily, all section amateurs are invited to take part; however, in a high-population section representation may be by liaison station plus stations in lighter populated areas. 

NTS: Operation During Disasters

The National Traffic System is dedicated to communications during disasters on behalf of ARES, as well as the daily handling of third-party traffic.  When a disaster situation arises, NTS is capable of expanding its cyclic operation into complete or partial disaster operation depending entirely on the extend of the disaster situation and the extent of its effect. 

In a situation like this, the ARRL Emergency Coordinators in disaster areas determine the communications needs and make decision regarding the disposition of local communications facilities, in accordance with the need and in coordination with agencies to be served.   The Section Emergency Coordinator, after conferring with the affected EC's, makes his recommendations to the Section Traffic Manager and/or NTS managers at section and/or region levels. 

While the County EC, is, in effect, the manger of ARES nets operating at local levels, and therefore makes decisions regarding their activation, managers of NTS nets at local, section, region, and area level are responsible for activation of their nets in a disaster situation, at the behest and on the recommendation of ARES or NTS officials at lower levels.

When and Where to send a "Radiogram"

  • Local Traffic (In-town/county), send it:
    • During a Net on your local repeater
    • Anytime on the repeater or via local telephone
  • Out of town or county traffic
    • During any Net on your local repeater ask for a station who may take "traffic" for the area it needs to go into.
    • Check with your Local Net Manager or Emergency Coordinator for stations who take relays oftraffic for other areas and countys.
  • Long distances within same state
    • During a Net on your local repeater, see if there are any relay stations to the HF Nets operating within the state that can pass to a "Higher Net"
    • If you have the privileges, check in to one of the state wide nets and pass traffic to a station who is local to the intended receiver
    • Check with your Local Net Manager or Emergency Coordinator to find who is the Local Liaison for HF Nets if you do not have the privileges or the equipment. (A Liason is an operator who has agreed to help pass NTS traffic for others.)
  • Out of State or Country
    • Pass it to an NTS Net that you have the privileges for
    • Pass your traffic to the Local Liaison via repeater or telephone
    • If the message is going out of the Country, check to ensure that the US has a third party agreement with the country it is going to. If not sure, check with your Emergency Coordinator or your local Net liaison.


RADIOGRAMS may be passed via any means available to an Amateur Radio Operator . . .voice, phone. Repeaters, simplex, VHF, UHF, HF, as long as you have the privileges to operate on a frequency, you can pass messages there.You may use:

  • Phone (Voice) anywhere it is legal for you to operate.
  • CW. NTS messages can be passed using CW on VHF, UHF, HF, any frequency that the operator is authorized to use
  • Packet. VHF and HF are the most common. Packet can be the ideal means of passing formalized message traffic in certain circumstances. It is especially useful when a "secure" method is necessary to safeguard the privacy of disaster victims. It is also very handy whenever a "hard copy" is needed for record keeping.

    Packet BBSs provide a looser structure for getting messages from the sender to the area of destination. This looseness has its advantages and disadvantages. An advantage is that participants can have more flexible schedules - one does not have to set aside a specific time for a regularly scheduled net. A disadvantage is that the sender, does not know if there is a human-receiver on the other end that will deliver the message. For the system to work efficiently, each BBS should have someone (or some group) responsible for delivering NTS messages.

  • RTTY/AMTOR. HF is the most common. Another digital mode(s) available for passing of traffic

Traffic NetsThere are specific times, days of the week and a variety of frequencies available for formal "Traffic Nets". Check with your local Net Manager, Emergency Coordinator or Net Liaison to find out when and where they meet. The ARRL Net Directory is a good source of information. We have also included several Appendices at the end of this manual which are lists of various nets at different levels.

During a Club Net, ARES Net, District Net, etc. is the perfect time to pass some traffic, even if just for practice. You can usually locate someone who will receive the traffic and will also work with you on your technique.

Don't worry about getting everything perfect. Practice makes us all better. If you listen to an NTS net for ten minutes, you will hear some of the old-timers make some blunders. It's no big deal! The most important part is to listen to how the traffic is handled and passed, then practice what you know is correct out of what you hear. People who are involved in the NTS nets welcome newcomers. Just tell them you are new to the system and they will coach you. Of course, there is always the net "Grump". Don't worry about him.

If you never learn any more than this about the Radiogram, you will do just fine passing traffic in the NTS with what you have learned so far. By the time you compose and send 10 or 12 messages, the Radiogram form, these simple procedures, and what to say, will be permanently imprinted on your brain.

We will now go into a little more depth and examine some of the finer points.


THE NTS STRUCTURE - How it works

Reminder: The NTS is made up of several associated, yet totally separate Nets held on various levels.

  • Local Nets. This is the Lowest level NTS Net.These Nets usually meet on local repeaters and are the first level of the NTS system. This is where traffic will be passed between cities, counties and sometimes within Districts or multi county areas. If the traffic needs to go any further or to the next step, it may be passed on to an operator who will take it to the next level Net, the Section Net.
    • Handling of Local MessagesThese are usually within your own county, city or within reach of your local repeater. If you receive the message, follow the delivery instructions to the party intended. If it is out of your area for phone delivery or you are the originating Amateur, try to find a station on the repeater who can deliver the message and send the traffic to that station. You will find repeaters to be excellent resources for passing NTS traffic locally. Try during a Club Net or an ARES/RACES Net on the repeater if there is not an official NTS Traffic Net held on your local repeater, this is usually an excellent time to catch someone in the area where the traffic needs to go.
  • Section Nets. A Section is an area designated by the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League). Each Section will have a, or several, NTS Nets established for the purpose of transferring this traffic or messages. This traffic is normally stays within that Section and is received by stations in the area where it is intended to go. If the message is to go to the next level Net, it is usually received by a designated operator to relay to the Region Nets.
    • Handling of Section MessagesThese are to be delivered within the ARRL designated Section. This usually means that the best way of delivering it would be to go to one of the Section/State NTS Traffic Nets that are in place. These are found on HF usually, but a few are found on wide coverage repeaters. If you do not have the ability or privileges to transmit the traffic yourself to the HF Net, ask your Emergency Coordinator who the NTS liaison is within your county and deliver the traffic to that operator for relay to the Section Net.
  • Region Nets . These Nets cover a much larger area. A representative from each section takes the messages to this Net that are intended for parties outside of the Section but within the Region. Traffic intended for parties outside of the Region will be passed on to operators designated to take them to the next level Net which is the Area Net.
    • Handling of Region MessagesThese are intended for a party within an ARRL designated Region The traffic will usually start off in a Section Net and be transmitted to the Region Net by the operator with that responsibility. Follow the same procedures as the Section Messages.
  • Area Nets. This is the top level Net of the NTS.It covers the available world. Representatives from each Region will bring traffic to these Nets to be passed around the designated Area or into other Areas. Each of these Nets has one basic item in common; each will have an appointed Manager to oversee the operation of each level. These will all be covered in greater detail later in this material
    • Handling of Area MessagesThese are intended for a party within one of the designated ARRL Areas. Normally it will be passed from Local to Section to Region to Area Net until it gets delivered to the intended party, regardless of where they are. The procedure on your end is the same, you introduce the traffic by the best means you have available. If you can take it to the Section Net, do so yourself. If you do not have the privileges, utilize the procedures drawn out above for the other Nets.
    • Handling of Out-of-U.S. (Country) Traffic. Remember to verify that the U.S. and the receiving country have a Third Party Agreement. A Third Party Agreement means that the U.S. and the other country have a legal agreement allowing U.S. Amateurs to pass traffic into that country.


 Last Update:  09/12/2016    Copyright Sumter County ARES. All Rights Reserved.