Nets: Amateur Radio Net Protocol

A “Net” is an on-the-air meeting of amateur radio operators. Usually, the group’s discussion centers on a particular topic-in our case, emergency communications and associated topics.

Nets are usually held on a regular basis on a predetermined frequency. Most nets are “directed nets” meaning there are certain rules that must be followed. One operator, acting as Net Control, is responsible for moderating the conversation and keeping order on the air. When on a directed net, you should not speak unless/until you are called on by Net Control. Think of it like a classroom – you must raise your hand and wait for the teacher to call on you before you address the class. Same thing on the air! You can imagine that if everyone spoke at once, there would be chaos.

When Net Control calls on you, you should address the group and close with your call sign. If you wish to address a comment to a particular person, you need to ask Net Control for permission first. If permission is granted, have your conversation with that person and then indicate that you are returning the frequency to Net Control.

So, you’re on a net and you want to speak up. How do you “raise your hand” on the air? Well, there are several options. Say:

“KC2XYZ, Question” – when you would like to ask a question
“KC2XYZ, Comment” – when you want to throw in your two cents
“KC2XYZ, Info” – when you can provide additional information or answer a question

ALWAYS, wait for Net Control to acknowledge you before speaking and give your call sign right away so everyone knows who is talking. AND, lastly, remember, to comply with FCC rules, you must identify yourself by call sign every 10 minutes and when you are finished speaking. Some repeaters have a 2 to 3 minute timeout timer, so you may have to unkey and rekey before the repeater cuts you off! Nobody wants be thought of as long-winded.

That’s all there is to it! The best advice is to listen to a few nets before jumping in to participate. You’ll get the hang of this in no time!