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4. NTS

4.1. Introduction

Messages are carried across North America, and across the Section, by the National Traffic System. NTS operators practice constantly and as a result, are highly skilled at transmitting messges.

Practice makes perfect

In contrast to ARES operators who exercise only occasionally, many NTS operators practice their skill every day.
Of course, it is "common knowledge" that "NTS is dying", but here in the Michigan Section, at least, NTS traffic has increased every year since at least 2005 (the earliest year for which the section has data).

4.2. Why should ARES use NTS

Since NTS operators have the skill, it only makes sense to use the best possible service. Obviously, NTS has little to offer for the local, tactical communications that make up perhaps 99% of the communications needed for any incident. But when traffic needs to leave the county, then it only makes good sense to rely on those who do it every day. This also keeps resources free for urgent local needs.

4.3. The structure of NTS

NTS is structured into a series of layered nets. Each level sends a representative to the higher level. Net schedules are arranged to facilitate the rapid distribution of traffic across the system. The five layers of NTS nets are:
  • Local nets
  • Section nets
  • Region nets
  • Area nets
  • The Transcontinental Corps
Local nets send a representative to the Section nets. A Michigan representative to the Eighth Region net (8RN) is designated for each meeting of 8RN to carry traffic from the Section nets to the Eighth Region. 8RN in turn sends a representative to the Eastern Area net (EAN). Transcontinental Corps (TCC) members then carry traffic between the areas, where it is then distributed downwards through the same structure until it can be delivered.

4.4. Michigan NTS Nets

Michigan has four affiliated VHF nets and seven HF nets. These nets, their net managers, frequencies and schedules are available at http://www.mi-nts.org/netinfo.php.
The VHF nets tend to be oriented toward training, although they handle substantial amounts of traffic. Some of the HF nets, notably QMN and MITN, are somewhat "hard core", focusing solely on traffic and generally having very short sessions. The others are more general nets where traffic is passed but that is not the sole purpose of the net.
Although there are significant month to month variations, Michigan nets report handling between 600 and 1000 messages each month, with approximately two-thirds of that handled by QMN, MITN and MVTN.