Counting Net Traffic

Like other radio nets affiliated with the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) reports the number of messages relayed ("traffic") through the net. How do we count the traffic? The critical idea is that we are not counting messages but relays of messages: movement from one station to another.

We'll consider four scenarios to illustrate.


Here we have one sender and one receiver. Let's suppose station W8OMR has a message for W8SGT.

W8SGT: W8OMR - this is W8SGT - READY

W8OMR: W8SGT - this is W8OMR - NUMBER 1234 ROUTINE

...W8OMR continues to relay the message by voice procedure... until "END. NO MORE."


This is our most common case and most straightforward. That's one message relayed, so one "traffic" point in our report.


This is just like the example above except where W8SGT and W8OMR cannot hear each other, as might happen on a simplex net. In that case, net control will find a station that can hear and be heard by both. For this example, that station is AD8CM.

In that case, net control will direct AD8CM to take the traffic from W8OMR and the relay will work normally. At the end, once the relay has been done properly, AD8CM has the message as indicated by use of the proword ROGER. That's one point for traffic relay count for the net.

The message hasn't gone as far as it can in this net, though. Net control will then direct W8SGT to take the message from AD8CM. Normal relay will take place, and once the message is there, W8SGT uses the proword ROGER. That's another point for traffic relay count for the net.

Thus, where one message is relayed twice to make it across the net, we have a total of two points. We aren't counting messages, we're counting relays of messages.


What about a "bulletin?" That's a message for all stations in the net to receive. Now W8SGT has a bulletin, and we add a few stations to our example net: K8RSO, W8ARD, and KD8TTE.

Net control will direct transmission of the bulletin. In a net with more advanced procedure, the transmission is made and stations answer in "net order," which works like this:


... W8SGT relays the message by voice procedure, concluding with "END - NO MORE." Then it's time for the receiving stations to answer (in net order means that they'll answer one at a time in the right order so there are no doubles):

W8OMR: Roger - W8OMR

AD8CM: Roger - AD8CM

K8RSO: Roger - K8RSO

W8ARD: Roger - W8ARD

KD8TTE: Roger - KD8TTE

That message 1235 was relayed five times, which means that exchange counted for five traffic points.

Bulletins are different from "words for the net," sometimes called "announcements," though that's not really a procedure. Messages are traffic for a station, traffic for all stations (bulletin), or words for the net, which means an operator will talk to say something but that stations in the net are not expected to copy it (so, no relay of a message). In the case of words, since there is no relay, there is no END when finished, no answer of ROGER, and no traffic relay point.

What about a message going to more than one station?


This works exactly like station-to-net above, except that the list of receiving stations is smaller, a subset of the net. Let's take the example above, and say that we've got a bulletin for any station that can take narrowband emergency messaging software (NBEMS) transmissions. (That could be any part of the suite that includes FLDIGI, FLAMP, and FLMSG. FLAMP is specifically made for station-to-group, "multicast.")

In our example, stations K8RSO and KD8TTE cannot receive NBEMS. In that case, the transmission will be made, and the responses should come back:

W8OMR: Roger - W8OMR

AD8CM: Roger - AD8CM

W8ARD: Roger - W8ARD

In this case, three stations copied the message and acknowledged receipt by voice (proword ROGER). (Acknowledgement in printed text can also be with a procedure signal QSL, or with an application-specific procedure, as in FLAMP.) That's three relays, ergo three traffic points for the net.

Now, AD8CM could read that message and determine that can relay by voice. In that case, AD8CM could list the message again for K8RSO and KD8TTE specifically, then when directed, relay the message by voice. K8RSO and KD8TTE would acknowledge by voice procedure (ROGER), which means the message got relayed two more times, which means two more traffic points for the net.

This station-to-group scenario is, by the way, what we use when sending "book traffic."

IN ANY CASE, net control operators need to be sure that traffic counts are accurate, and reported promptly. Likewise, station operators should also be reporting their activity in public service.