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NTS training

This is a work in progress. Some sections will lead to 404 errors while I build this out.

This information is provided for amateur radio operators (stations) interested in learning more about traffic handling. Along with good on-air practices, you need to understand the radiogram format used when moving traffic, special words that are used during traffic nets, and how to properly log your traffic handling.

While traffic can move over various modes, including digital and Morse code (CW), this information will focus on moving traffic using your voice, such as over single side band (SSB) or FM.

The primary objective of the NTS and the methods and protocols I describe here is to facilitate transmission of formally written messages from origin to destination so that it arrives exactly as it was written, word for word, letter for letter, space for space, regardless of what mode (voice, CW, digital…) is used. Stations involved in the NTS have a responsibility to promptly relay messages, deliver messages, and service undeliverable messages back. These stations also interface with the public and served agencies, and we expect these stations to represent amateur radio well.

I highly recommend listening to a traffic net to better understand this information. I also suggest reading this information in pieces, as trying to comprehend all of it at once can be quite a bit to take on. If you are able to participate in a traffic net that offers training, use the information on this site to help you start off, and seek guidance and feedback from those on the traffic net as you build your skills. If you are in the DFW metroplex, consider participating on the DFW Metroplex Traffic Net which is a traffic net that is happy to train new operators about traffic handling. These nets occur twice daily.

ARRL National Traffic System (NTS) and Radiogram Training - Apr 18 2020

You can watch an online presentation I gave about the NTS and radiogram format on YouTube.


Start here to learn about the radiogram format.

Traffic net operations

This is an overview of how a traffic net operates.


On traffic nets you will need to understand these key terms.

ITU phonetics

When giving individual letters, it’s important to know the ITU phonetic alphabet.

Moving traffic

Here is a walk-through on how to move a piece of traffic during a net.

ARL numbered radiograms

More common phrases have shorthands which help with efficiency.

Book traffic (coming soon)

When the same message is going to multiple recipients, these will move as a book.

Op notes

Messages may include instructions related to delivery or sending a reply.

Delivering traffic

Here’s what to do if traffic was handed to you for delivery.

Logging traffic (coming soon)

It is important that you track the messages you help originate, relay, and deliver.

How does traffic move? (coming soon)

After you introduce traffic into the system, it can move over various means, including voice, Morse code, and digital.