Waterway Net is conducted as a Formal Net

In our preamble we state that this is a Formal Net. This means “All communications will go through the net control station.” The wording is clear and direct: ALL communications WILL go THROUGH the net control station.

A formal net, also known as a directed net, is orderly and efficient. Daily practice will ingrain the protocol and make operation of the net professional in character to any observer.

The principle behind a directed net operation is that no station may use the net frequency without permission from control. This means if you come to the net frequency and hear nothing, don't announce your presence. Wait until you hear the directive from the net control station asking for check-ins or someone net control has asked to relay check-ins.

It further means that stations should refrain from responding to anyone unless the NCS specifically asked you to respond. Everyone wants to help, but unrequested transmissions such as “I need a relay” and “I hear you Earl” violate the directed net rule of going THROUGH the net control station and creates interference on the net frequency.

Participants must not take it upon themselves to assist net control when they haven't been asked. For example, NCS calls WD0ETL for his comments and you don't hear WD0ETL respond so you, without being asked, call WD0ETL. Meanwhile, several other aspects of the situation may be occurring. First, perhaps WD0ETL responded to NCS and you didn't copy him. Your transmission interfered with WD0ETL. Secondly, NCS may ask someone else to call WD0ETL and now Earl has two stations calling and he may not be sure who to respond to. This may not cause a problem in a casual net but in an emergency such an incident can be critical. Instructions from two sources simultaneously is confusing and can cause serious problems as well as create uncertainty regarding net operation.

A call is a communication whether it is answered or not. This means blind calls for the NCS, side QSOs, etc. If you don't hear the NCS or an authorized assistant, wait until you do. Perhaps propagation is poor between you and the NCS or the frequency has been turned over to someone you can't hear.

When the NCS asks someone for assistance, or a FC to handle the Position Report segment, that station temporarily takes over the NCS function under the guidelines of the NCS. All stations must follow directed net protocol including the NCS while the assistant has control of the frequency. The assistant is only authorized to perform the function asked for by NCS. Any further action requires NCS approval. For example, if you have a relay and net control asks you to get the check-in, you are only authorized to do that. You are not authorized to call for additional check-ins unless authorized by NCS directly.

A Note about Intentional Interference during the net:

All intentional interference should be ignored since what they want is attention; don't give it to them. In fact, the way to handle all of these situations is to ignore them and work around them using the tools you have (notch filters, IF shift, bandwidth) and develop new ones thereby becoming a better operator. It is the responsibility of the NCS to determine what action is necessary to conduct net business.