Communications Technology / Science in Milky Way | World Anvil


Communications are vital in any sort of society, but especially so in civilisations that cross multiple stars. From personal communicators to planetary subspace transmitters, communications technology is what ties the galaxy together. Intraplanetary communications networks are centuries old technologies, relying on simple electromagnetic signals transmitted through nodes to reach any device on the planet. Many spacefaring civilisations expanded their communications networks to the rest of their star system after leaving their gravity wells for the first time, but the limits imposed by the speed of light prevented instant communications. Instead, these primitive networks used non-live recorded messages to communicate over (for the time) vast distances.

The discovery of subspace drastically changed communications through space. Similar to a spacecraft, which requires a hyper drive to travel faster than light, communications signals require special transmitters and relays to be propagated through the dimension. Subspace communications networks are remarkably similar to realspace communications, continuing to employ standard electromagnetic signals. While sending and receiving interstellar signals through subspace is relatively simple with a starship's communications unit, planetary communication systems are responsible for handling hundreds of billions to trillions of requests per day.

Generally speaking, interstellar communications networks function in a hub or node based system. The primary nodes are the starbases around each system's star, which have extremely high-powered communications systems and repeaters in order to forward signals through subspace to the next starbase. Although subspace communications signals can cross the galaxy near-instantaneously, the hardware required to create a signal coherent enough to reach that far is prohibitively expensive. In effect, this means that the high-bandwidth daily communications of a spacefaring society must be routed through stationary starbases, but the low bandwidth of science ships or military forces can be handled through ship-based transmitters. In addition, hyperlanes, gateways, and wormholes further reduce power requirements, meaning that transmitting to a starbase through such an FTL passage is significantly easier. Starbases also handle intra-system communications for all colonies, habitats, ships, stations, and anything else with a communications system.

Aside from FTL signals, there exist other forms of communication. Courier shuttles are popular for moving high-sensitivity information, as subspace communications can be intercepted like realspace transmissions. The Commonwealth of Man's Commonwealth Colonial Courier Corps, also known as "4C" or the "Pony Express", after an ancient courier network in Earth's past, is one of the most expansive courier networks in the galaxy. Although it is military-operated, it moves more high-priority cargo than any other courier network per day. CCCC ships are afforded express privileges to bypass checkpoints and random searches, and the interruption of CCCC vessels or personnel is punishable by a decade of hard labour.


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