National & TN Traffic System

National Traffic System (NTS)

The National Traffic System (NTS) is an organized network of amateur radio operators sponsored by the American Radio Relay League for the purpose of relaying messages throughout the US and Canada.[1]

During normal times, these messages are routine greetings (“Happy birthday Aunt Mary”) and keep the system well oiled and the operators trained so that everything works when needed.

When there is an emergency or disaster NTS works closely with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service to provide emergency communications. The most common type of disaster-related messages are “health and welfare” inquiries and notifications into and out of the area affected by the disaster.

In time of disaster, it is easy to expand the system by simply creating additional meeting times for the nets with high volume, or by setting up a specific “trunk line” between two points.

During disasters or other emergencies, radiograms are used to communicate information critical to saving lives or property, or to inquire about the health or welfare of a disaster victim. To get involved with NTS, find your local NTS affiliate on the air via the ARRL on-line Net Directory.

ARRL National Traffic System Area Staff Chairs

Marcia Forde, KW1U, Chair of the NTS Eastern Area Staff

Robert Griffin, K6YR, Chair of the NTS Pacific Area Staff

Richard Webb, NF5B,  Chair of the NTS Central Area Staff link to chapters 1 thru 11 are here for your

review into learning exactly how the the NTS works and how to become involved with the National Traffic System.

The following forms can be used when sending or receiving traffic



TN Section Cabinet » Section Traffic Manager


Thomas E. Wolfe, K4CMY
5956 Crestview Drive
Hixson, TN 37343
(423) 752-3436    (423) 877-3436
k4cmy #

Assistant Traffic Managers

Billy Cox, WA4FNY  –  Morristown, TN
George Reeder, KJ2V  –  Crossville, TN
Richard Webb, NF5B  –  Eads, TN
Dave Colvett, K4WWV  –  Special Assistant

TN Phone Net –  3980 kHz

Mon – Fri  5:40, 6:45 AM & 6:30 PM
Saturday  8:00 AM & 6:30 PM
Sunday    8:00 AM   (all Central Time)

TN CW Net –  3562 kHz

Mon – Fri  7:00 PM Central Time

Other  Related  STM / NTS Information

The ARRL National Traffic System is a heirarchal routing system of nets and volunteer amateur radio stations that meet regularly to bring, hand-off or receive traffic for delivery anywhere in the United States, even the world. At many hours of the day or night there is a scheduled net, with dedicated trained traffic handlers who can accurately and efficiently pass the traffic from source to destination virtually seamlessly.

Begun in the early 20th century, the NTS is the product of the “Relay” portion of the American Radio Relay League and stands ready to provide a well-oiled message transmission network, based on a strict set of standards, guidelines and interwoven scheduled net times.

No one station or operator is a “member” of the NTS, but rather the “members” are the actual functioning nets themselves, with the stations providing the vehicle for actual message transmission. While historically the bulk of traffic was routine greetings, which is now handled via cell phones, e-mail and other electronic means, our most important thrust has been and remains, the training with, and utilizing of, a standard-format, universally accepted message system through any backup communications emergency equipment or system called into service.

Numerous modes of transmission are supported and utilized, including CW, voice, digital, internet-connected, VoIP, or whatever is available to get the message through.  Typically, here is the process and routing of a message through the system:

1. An individual member of the public, a ham operator, or served agency representative requests the services of a ham to help formulate a message and enter it into the NTS. After the information is taken from the sender, it is put into standard ARRL NTS Radiogram format, so as to be clearly understood and efficiently passed through the various components of the system.

2. The Originating station brings it to the next scheduled Local or Section Net or on-going Emergency Net and lists it with the Net Control Station.

3. A station will answer the NCS’s call for someone to handle the message and will take it from the Originator for transfer to the next appropriate net or frequency.

4. At the scheduled time or after moving to the proper frequency, it will be passed on to the next net and so on. It could, for instance, travel from an Originator in California, through the 6th Region Net, the Pacific Area Net and handed off to the Central Area Net.

5. On our end, a message coming through the system will be listed on, for instance, the Central Area Voice net. A Region 5 representative would pick it up, bring it to the Region 5 Net, a Tennessee Region 5 representative would bring it to the Tennessee Phone Net and finally, a station checked in there would answer up to take it for a Local Net or delivery in his local area.


One of the main mantras of NTS message handling “etched in stone” has always been that our job is to be communicators, not to change the system guidelines, but pass it along, regardless of what type the message is, as long as it is legal, ethical or not offensive. We feel honored to be a part of such tradition and respect those who have been so dedicated, but, as the situation became truly dire, we had to try something and frankly, this has improved the attitudes on the nets among both the members and traffic handlers. WE CANNOT STOP THERE !!

It is strongly recommended we seize the opportunity to recruit more representatives for the Region Nets and more stations to learn how to and begin traffic handling and delivery. However, realistically, unless we all in every level of the NTS do something to come up with better traffic, I am concerned the new handlers flame will again give way to the disappointment and frustration we have all felt in the past few years.


It has become a physical and logistical impossibility for me to check in to every Tennessee Net with even the much smaller number of incoming messages on my Pactor board and expect to find stations willing to take them. Some possible delivering stations only check in to the morning, while others come to only the evening nets, others may meet only on weekends and many ARES members will only check in on Mondays.

We have stated, and honestly do believe, that there are a number of stations really wanting to learn proper traffic-handling skills and local clubs or groups that could help provide regular outlets for traffic if we can just get the word out !!

There are a few places We can identify as references to what we do, how we do it and why:

1. The FCC Rules and Regulations: Obviously, anyone who has been a ham long at all, has heard of the FCC requirement that, in return for the use of many, many portions of RF spectrum, we train for and provide backup emergency communication.

No, we are not all expected to do this, but I wish some of the operators out there wouldn’t disrespect what we do and have done to cover their part of the use of our frequencies so much. FCC Rules, Part 97.1(a)

2. The ARRL Public Service Communications Manual, or PSCM: While it is true the printed version is usually out of date, it has a wealth of knowledge and is available online at ES/field/pscm/

3. The ARRL National Traffic System Methods, Practices and Guidelines, or NTS-MPG: This monster-sized document at 250 to 300 pages was formulated as a work in progress to answer virtually any situation about NTS traffic handling and system/network administration. Unfortunately, due to inattention at the League and an earlier, feverish push toward Winlink 2000, some of it is out of date, but it is still the point-of-reference on traffic handling. Yes, I have printed it out, but it is available at

4. The ARRL Net Directory: Again, the right arm of anyone who handles mush traffic as it shows nets, frequencies, time, Local, State, Region, Area and Special Service nets, as well as proper message form, procedure and abbreviations. While it is very frustrating that the last printed version was May of 2001, it is available online at

Section Traffic Manager Job Description

The STM is appointed by the Section Manager to supervise traffic handling organization at the section level — that is, to coordinate all traffic efforts within the section, regardless of mode or National Traffic System affiliation, so that routings within the section and connections with other networks and digital traffic nodes will result in orderly and efficient traffic flow. The STM should be a person at home and familiar with traffic handling on all modes, must have at least a Technician class license, and should possess the willingness and ability to devote equal consideration and time to all section traffic matters. The STM must be a Full ARRL Member.

The duties of the STM include the following:

1. Establish, administer, and promote a traffic handling program at the section level, based on, but not restricted to, National Traffic System networks.

2. Develop and implement one or more effective training programs within the section that address the needs of both traditional and digital modes of traffic handling. Insure that Net Managers place particular emphasis on the needs of amateurs new to formal network traffic handling, as well as those who receive, send, and deliver formal traffic on a “casual” basis, via RTTY, AMTOR, and Packet based message storage and bulletin board systems.

3. Cooperate and coordinate with the Section Emergency Coordinator so that traffic nets and emergency nets in the section present a unified public service front.

4. Recommend candidates for Net Managers and Official Relay Station appointments to the SM.  Issue appointments/cancellations and appropriate certificates.  At the SM’s discretion, the STM may directly make or cancel NM and ORS appointments.

5. Insure that all traffic nets within the section are properly and adequately staffed, with appropriate direction to Net Managers, as required, which results in coverage of all Net Control and liaison functions. Assign liaison coverage adequate to insure that all digital bulletin boards and message storage systems within the section are polled on a daily basis, to prevent misaddressed, lingering, or duplicated radiogram-formatted message traffic.

6. Maintain familiarity with proper traffic handling and directed net procedures applicable to all normally-used modes within the section.

7. Collect and prepare accurate monthly net reports and submit them to ARRL Headquarters, either directly or via the Section Manager, but in any case on or prior to the established deadlines.

Recruitment of new hams and League members is an integral part of the job of every League appointee.  Appointees should take advantage of every opportunity to recruit a new ham or member to foster growth of Field Organization programs, and our abilities to serve the public.

73  Tom  K4CMY
Section Traffic Manager for Tennessee