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Interstellar/colony communication. How does it work?

PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:48 pm
by mraichelson
So, coming up a bit from the discussion in the what's a no-no thread something did cross my mind. There's certainly a line of "whatever works best for your plot" that is a valid response, BUT...

I was wondering if there was any official ideas on how interstellar communication work and how fast a story from one colony might make it back to other colonies/news media outlets/etc. Having seen a couple different things in different settings (none of which need to dictate anything here, obviously), but they all lend a different direction and feel to things as part of the larger setting as a whole.

The real world style option: "It's bound by the speed of light and bandwidth is super narrow so anything broadcast back and forth will be laggy and minimal."

The Forever War style option (which is an extension of the real world option, really): "It's bound by the speed of light, but we shoot repeater drones (which can be really small/unmanned/etc.) through [space travel shortcut mechanism] at relativistic speeds which help cut down on the amount of lag in trying to transmit chunks of information (but it still may be significantly delayed reaching some places)."

The Ender-verse/Hyperion cantos style option: "The [magic internet/data/broadcast analogue] works instantly across any distance (but may have restrictions on access or bandwidth)."

In thinking about the concept of the transit gates and the safest travel option being a "coordinated on both ends" scenario, though, it seems like it would need to be something along the lines of the last option.

Re: Interstellar/colony communication. How does it work?

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:52 am
by spacemonkey
I don't remember if it's in the book or was just mentioned here on the forums but as data has negligible mass so it is broadcast freely/cheaply through the gate network. That said, given the way gates' transmit everything in instantaneous bursts, I doubt there are many streaming interstellar video conversations but definitely a working "email" system.

Re: Interstellar/colony communication. How does it work?

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:56 am
by Red_Robot
Mobile Frame Zero: Rapid Attack pg. 36 wrote:The Terran Transit Authority has (until recently) held the Solar Union and its colonies together with its network of transit gates. There are now thousands of gates throughout the volume of the galaxy, most still under TTA control. Floating in space orbiting the colony, each node is a city of hundreds of engineers, their families, and the infrastructure they need to live. At the center of that city is a machine capable of forming an Einstein-Rosen bridge to another point in space and passing matter or information through instantaneously.


So the Transit Gates are the means of communication as well as travel, making them extremely valuable strategic and logistic chokepoints in every sense.

I am under the impression also, all inferred on my part, that transit gates as arms of the TTA also act as a sort of local "counting house" or stock exchanges for the colony. Or, perhaps more succinctly that the corporations that run the gate at the colonial level act in that capacity. The local markets would have to be in constant comparison to galactic markets so there is likely regular communication between gates to those regards.

I agree with spacemonkey that most communication is likely through burst broadcasts and information packets. Though "real time streaming" is likely very possible if Gate A and Gate B can stay "pointed" at each other long enough. That may even mean that the local gate corporation sells blocks of broadcast time for transmissions when the gate isn't in use shunting peaches back to Terra.

Re: Interstellar/colony communication. How does it work?

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:11 pm
by mraichelson
Red_Robot wrote:
Mobile Frame Zero: Rapid Attack pg. 36 wrote:The Terran Transit Authority has (until recently) held the Solar Union and its colonies together with its network of transit gates. There are now thousands of gates throughout the volume of the galaxy, most still under TTA control. Floating in space orbiting the colony, each node is a city of hundreds of engineers, their families, and the infrastructure they need to live. At the center of that city is a machine capable of forming an Einstein-Rosen bridge to another point in space and passing matter or information through instantaneously.


Of course it was in the book and I just glazed over it. :)

I agree with spacemonkey that most communication is likely through burst broadcasts and information packets. Though "real time streaming" is likely very possible if Gate A and Gate B can stay "pointed" at each other long enough. That may even mean that the local gate corporation sells blocks of broadcast time for transmissions when the gate isn't in use shunting peaches back to Terra.


Yeah, going back to the ansible-style example again that was a system where the people had access to be making inter-world communications but there was a queue for it before things could go out (and your role in government/military/etc would affect your ability to skip the line). And even if you did have access it was decent for email/file data but you had to have some serious sway to be allowed access for a two-way voice chat or the like. Most of your day-to-day communication/entertainment/etc would be "our planet, our media" kind of stuff.

I think I'm way overthinking things. :)

Re: Interstellar/colony communication. How does it work?

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:56 pm
by spacemonkey
mraichelson wrote:Most of your day-to-day communication/entertainment/etc would be "our planet, our media" kind of stuff.
Well I would think there would actually be a lot of imported entertainment media content. Based on the average colony size (discussed here), I'm imagining most colonies are fortunate to have one or two local media outlets that would cover the colony's news, weather, and sports but for general entrainment programming would they would be subsidiaries/affiliates of a larger network. So the average colonial might get to watch some local coverage of high school and rec/city league sports but for bigger stuff like Solar Union Idol, a Galactic Football League game, or Late Last Night with Carson Meyers O'Fallon, they would be watching a rebroadcast from the Solar Union equivalent's of ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. Of course whether such networks are freely broadcast or are tightly controlled subscription services on any given colony would probably depend on how generous the involved corporations are. ;)

Re: Interstellar/colony communication. How does it work?

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:51 pm
by Joshua A.C. Newman
Think of it as a mail drop instead of a network node.

Re: Interstellar/colony communication. How does it work?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:29 pm
by FrostCollar
This reminds me of the Hyperpulse Generators from Battletech, actually. Burst comms are possible but communication is probably expensive, and if the large and expensive facility goes offline there's really not a good plan B for backup communication.

Re: Interstellar/colony communication. How does it work?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:48 am
by eduty
Would this lead to a healthy economy of information courier services?

If you wanted to transmit something that gate personnel could not intercept, you would have to carry it yourself.

Re: Interstellar/colony communication. How does it work?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:16 pm
by Joshua A.C. Newman
You bet it would.

Re: Interstellar/colony communication. How does it work?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:53 pm
by eduty
Might make a nice objective in an Alpha Bandit game.

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