On Thursday August 15, the management team of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced that FDOT support of SARNET would be discontinued and was effective immediately.  SARNET stands for Statewide Amateur Radio Networking in Florida.  SARNET, which began operation in 2012, is a series of UHF repeaters that are linked together via the Florida Department of Transportation microwave network that runs along the Florida interstate system.  The primary purpose of SARNET is to provide amateur radio communications support in times of emergencies.  The SARNET was quite extensively used in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in October of 2018.  Some of the repeaters are privately owned and most are owned by FDOT.  As of the date of this press release, there are 35 repeaters on the air and 8 more that have been approved for construction and or were in various phases of construction.

Although the SARNET is still currently in full operation, the discontinuance of this support will, according to the statement on the SARNET website, will have detrimental effects to the SARNET system over time.  A quote from the SARNET website says the following, “This action will have an immediate affect on SARNET since ongoing maintenance activities have also been stopped.  In addition, it will lead to the slow-death of SARNET as problems occur that are not addressed. It is particularly disturbing that this decision was made in the middle of hurricane season”.

The management team for SARNET is requesting that amateur radio operators write a letter, sign it, and mail it to the chief engineer of the Florida Department of Transportation.  They also ask that everyone be courteous and professional in your comments, so FDOT can persuaded to come back to a supporting position for this important communications resource.  A template of a suggested letter in Microsoft Word format can be downloaded from the SARNET website directly at https://www.sarnetfl.com/uploads/6/1/7/0/61701057/william_watts.docx.  A template of a suggested form letter in PDF format can be downloaded from the SARNET website at https://www.sarnetfl.com/uploads/6/1/7/0/61701057/william_watts.pdf  The SARNET website is located at http://www.sarnetfl.com.

For more information on SARNET, including maps of the repeaters in the system, coverage maps, facts and history of SARNET you may go to the SARNET website at http://www.sarnetfl.com