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Why Take Traffic at "Reading Speed?"

posted Jun 15, 2014, 5:22 PM by C. Matthew Curtin
On this evening's net I took a piece of traffic that was a part of a book of two. The message was from station N1IQI, a common text. The station bringing it to the net asked W8ARR and I (KD8TTE) whether we could take the traffic at reading speed, and we both answered in the affirmative.

"Common text" indicates a message that is sent across NTS frequently. Rather than relaying the traffic at a speed where the receiving station can write all of the text carefully, a relay station that has the common text already can simply take the text at "reading speed." In so doing, the relay station has a copy of the text and just needs to hear the text confirmed. This also ensures that the entire text of the message is read on the air and we do not have a situation where someone might believe that we're improperly using codes for the purpose of obscuring meaning in violation of 47 CFR Part 97 [specifically 97.113(a)(4)].

When receiving a message, however, a relay station has a duty to ensure that the message was properly received, whether the message is unique or common. Hence, relay stations must actually verify that they have the right message. This evening, when I took the traffic, I compared the text as it was coming through at reading speed to the copy of the text that I had and noticed a difference.

Word 22 of the text as read over the air was NEED but my copy of the message as found on the ARRL site (as well as on the Central Colorado Traffic Net's common text list) is ENJOY. While one might argue that in conversation that there's little if any difference between

WE NEED YOUR PARTICIPATION 

and

WE ENJOY YOUR PARTICIPATION

the fact is that as relay stations we have a duty to get the message right. If the author wrote NEED then we must relay NEED.

In the course of researching the various common text lists I also noticed that the copy of the common text on the ARRL web site shows the origin of the message being N1IQI but in BRYANTVILLE MA rather than PEMBROKE MA, which is what is on other lists and matches the location of the station in the FCC's ULS. This suggests pretty strongly that the ARRL's list is out of date.

I have drafted a new radiogram to N1IQI asking him to confirm what word 22 should be, and we'll see whether the printed lists are wrong, or the text as it is coming into COTN has been garbled. Stay tuned!

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