The Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) is the means by which local amateur radio operators serve the public by relaying messages on the public's behalf. COTN is one of many local nets throughout the United States, organized into the National Traffic System (NTS), a part of the Field Organization of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

COTN serves central Ohio, including the counties of Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, Union, and others. COTN is part of the ARRL Ohio Section field organization. The COTN organization consists of:

  • ARRL-appointed Net Manager (NM), and NM-appointed assistant net manager(s) (ANM). The net reports monthly its status and statistics to ARRL.
  • NM-appointed Net Control Stations (NCSs) that control and direct the net.
  • Section Net Liaisons (SNLs) who relay traffic between COTN and Ohio Section NTS nets. For both inbound and outbound traffic, COTN interacts with Ohio Section NTS nets (operating on 75-meter LSB and 80-meter CW, e.g. Ohio Single Sideband Net, 3.9725 MHz) that in turn interact with the NTS 8th Region Nets which in turn interact with the Michigan Section and West Virginia Section NTS nets and the NTS Eastern Area Net (EAN).
  • Traffic handling operators and stations in and throughout central Ohio that originate, deliver, and relay traffic. Individual stations report monthly their traffic statistics to the ARRL Ohio Section Manager (for inclusion in the ARRL QST magazine), one point given for each radiogram originated, or sent, or received, or delivered.

COTN provides ongoing (daily) training to handle traffic and serve public during communications emergency/major disaster. Emphasis is placed on:

  • Reliance on, alignment with, and adherence to ARRL/NTS procedures and operating aids (same as those used by NTS throughout the U.S., U.S. possessions, and Canada).
  • Net stations/operators voluntarily being trained and prepared and having long-duration emergency power upward four (4) weeks or longer in aftermath of major disaster to provide emergency communications in conjunction with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) for central Ohio, including emergency/relief agencies, institutions, civic organizations, churches, public, etc.
  • Emergency operating preparedness design basis and assumptions - massive and prolonged telephone (both long-distance and local) outage, massive commercial power outage, poor mobility, harsh conditions. In a major disaster, these conditions may last upward four (4) weeks or longer.
  • Thorough geographic coverage provided by many net stations to enable inbound traffic to be delivered within reasonable amount of time, if necessary without reliance on telephone. Inbound traffic is listed and routed by town names, and if necessary, Columbus zip codes (Columbus being a large city). Also and perhaps more importantly, the origination of 3rd-party outbound traffic and relay of this traffic via SNLs and NTS to all points in the United States, U.S. possessions, and Canada. Traffic is handled under the precedences of Emergency, Priority, Welfare (inquires and reports), and Routine, per ARRL definitions.
  • Operator speed and accuracy; and net efficiency.
  • Implementation of the traffic handling portion of the ARRL OHIO SECTION EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN (OSERP) which governs ARES and NTS emergency communications/disaster response operations in and throughout Ohio. Implementation is via the COTN EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN/PROCEDURE (ERP/P) which is in accordance with, and supplements, the OSERP. The COTN ERP/P provides guidelines and instructions for COTN net control stations, section net liaison stations, net stations, and all stations involved in COTN emergency operation.

Cooperation with other services As a National Traffic System net, COTN is organized and intended to assist the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) county organizations in central Ohio who in turn work closely with and serve emergency and relief agencies, e.g. Emergency Management Agency, public safety agencies, American Red Cross, etc. Most COTN stations are also ARES stations.

COTN regularly assists MARS (U.S. Military Affiliated Radio System), particularly to initiate delivery of traffic from overseas military personnel.

COTN has maintained daily 7:15 PM operation since 1985 (year of net formation). Currently on the Central Ohio Radio Club 146.97MHz PL123.0 repeater system located in and surrounding Columbus, Ohio. We also maintain backup frequencies on other repeaters and simplex to ensure that we can continue to operate even in the event of failure.

COTN participates annually in the ARRL nation-wide Simulated Emergency Test (SET), held in October of each year. In recent years, COTN has been the local NTS net national scoring leader in this test.

The net welcomes all newcomers. Written training materials are available to amateurs who are new to traffic handling.

This presentation at the 2019 Ohio ARES Conference discusses and demonstrates third-party traffic handling, including use of the radiogram and moving information on other forms such as the ICS 213 General Message form.