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Interstellar Communications
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Mikael Hasselstein
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:30 pm    Post subject: Interstellar Communications Reply with quote

Hey all,

As some of you may have picked up on, a number of us are working on figuring out the strategy and tactics of naval combat in the Ships & Equipment board.

It strikes me that lines of interstellar communication are incredibly important for managing operations across systems. However, I don't think too much has been written about communications networks, and how communications are done in the SWU, aside from sporadic mentions here or there.

Because so many of you are more versed in the literature than I am, I'm wondering if you could point me to all the tid-bits that are mentioned across the literature, so that I could make a complete listing and see if there's a coherent understanding that can be made.

I'm already aware of p. 192-193 in R&E, and when I get home I'll peruse the Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology, which I have on the shelf.
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You also have the cost factor, mentioned in the Corellian Trilogy novels, where Lando makes a hypercomm call to one of his prospective bachelorettes. I see nothing on it though in the Craken's threat dossier for that time frame.
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griff
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been thinking about this for a while, and have though it all a mix of communcation devices.

With the Empire having the best tech, i.e Holographic comms able to reach the asteroid field near Hoth. Which would still be problematic, as even asteroids could prevent you from sending a clear transmission.

Rebels "beemed" the plans of the Death Star, kinda like a text message.

Or a sort of Pony Express (I even have a character templat Courier Freighter Captain) that would relay information by ship from planet to planet.
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

griff wrote:
I have been thinking about this for a while, and have though it all a mix of communcation devices.

With the Empire having the best tech, i.e Holographic comms able to reach the asteroid field near Hoth. Which would still be problematic, as even asteroids could prevent you from sending a clear transmission.

Rebels "beemed" the plans of the Death Star, kinda like a text message.

Or a sort of Pony Express (I even have a character templat Courier Freighter Captain) that would relay information by ship from planet to planet.


In the past, i have had some characters based on that sort of motif. Fast unarmed ship for courier services.
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Fallon Kell
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IIRC, there's:
Radio - Simple close range comlink communications at c (50-500 credits)
Hypercomm or hyperspace radio - Radio sent through hyperspace. Realtime communications throughout a sector. Messages sent throughout large sections of the galaxy with lag. (20,000-50,000 credits)
Hyperspace message canisters - A message in a bottle (with a hyperdrive attached). Speed depends on hyperdrive rating of message canister. Range is throughout the galaxy. (No idea of cost, but cheaper to operate and slower overall than hypercomm)
HolonetInstantaneous communication throughout the galaxy by means unknown. Holonet transceivers are prohibitively expensive, and the use may cost more, too. Handy for Darth Vader to get some quality time with Palpatine's giant floating head.

Most if not all capital ships are going to have a hypercomm tranceiver, and Star Destroyers come equipped with a Holonet transceiver. Practically everything has a radio comlink.
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lurker
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FK thanks for that, I never thought about the 'message in a bottle'.

You know, with the hyperspace radio, you could set up an adventure that the party has to act as a com repeater to get a message from point B to point D. Throw in an Imperial patrol or scout ship and have some fun
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or they have to locate a repeater station, hack in and upload a message (or steal/intercept one) but the empire guards it.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
Or they have to locate a repeater station, hack in and upload a message (or steal/intercept one) but the empire guards it.


Rgr that. THis little idea has opened up a whole fun can of worms to think about in the game ...
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are also Plexus Droid Vessels: unmanned messenger droids that travel at very fast speeds (Space 15 and x1/2 Hyperdrive). They are used by Imperial Intelligence, but the Alliance could use something similar.
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Last edited by CRMcNeill on Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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DougRed4
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lots of good ideas as a result of this thread. Nicely done! Cool
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Mikael Hasselstein
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I'm back at home where I have more regular internet access and access to my physical books.

I've got the Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology (EGtW&T), which lists "three primary communications applications" - coinciding with FK's list, minus the hyperspace message canisters.

Regarding subspace, It's already been said that a Star Destroyer would have a range of 100LYs. EGtW&T(p. 136) mentions that the Millennium Falcon's subspace transceiver has a range of 40LYs, and X-Wings have transceivers with a range of 25LYs. It also mentions that longer-distance messages, that get routed through networks, can suffer delays of hours or days, or corrupted, or lost altogether. Also, they can be intercepted and decoded, depending on encryption.

Another thing we should contemplate is how these three systems interface with one another. The Wookieepedia page on comlinks discusses satellite amplification. If a comlink is essentially also a satellite phone, then that satellite could easily convert a comlink message into a hypercom or holonet message, barring the 3d imagery of the holonet. I imagine that subspace relay stations also have this capability.
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMo that would depend where they are at. I can easily see a core world planet having it's comlink satellites having the functionality to also convert them to hypercoms, but somewhere like tatooine.. not so much.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Interstellar Communications Reply with quote

Mikael Hasselstein wrote:
It strikes me that lines of interstellar communication are incredibly important for managing operations across systems. However, I don't think too much has been written about communications networks, and how communications are done in the SWU, aside from sporadic mentions here or there.

Because so many of you are more versed in the literature than I am, I'm wondering if you could point me to all the tid-bits that are mentioned across the literature, so that I could make a complete listing and see if there's a coherent understanding that can be made.


Galaxy-wide communication via the Holonet is achieved via a vast network of satellite transceivers spread throughout the galaxy. They function much like cell-towers in a cellular phone network, only on a far, far larger scale.

I picture the difference between the full-holo Holonet and the more basic hypertransceiver much like the difference between 3G and 4GLTE cellphone service, in that one has a much wider bandwidth than the other. While the description of the Holonet states that the Empire has essentially taken over the highest end of the network (i.e. the real-time 3D hologram communication with essentially unlimited range) and reserved for purely military or high-level government use, the ability to send 2D real-time audio/video transmissions is still available (if very expensive), and the ability to send one-way data packages (i.e. recorded videos, emails, etc.) is in even more common use. It is this low-band connection available to the public (at a price) that comprises "HyperNet" as opposed to the Holonet.

Subspace Comms have a dual use, in that they can connect to the closest Holonet Transceiver as well as providing direct communications. IMC, they also have the ability to generate more accurate astrogation coordinates using signals received from Holonet Transceivers (in effect, treating the Holonet as a Galactic Positioning System). 25 light-years is the normal range, but it can be boosted over 100 lightyears with sufficient power (and not just by Star Destroyers; per The Far Orbit Project, Nebulon Bs are also equipped with subspace radios in the 100+ lightyear range).

The problem with any sort of wireless transmission is that it can be intercepted, which is where message droids like the Plexus Droid Vessel come in handy. The messages may take a day or more to reach the intended recipient, but the odds of interception are much lower.

Something mentioned in the Thrawn novels is that combat shields disrupt long-range comms, so it might be tactically expedient to deploy a frigate or corvette equipped as a comm relay in close proximity to a line or squadron expected to enter into battle, so as to maintain real-time comms. Light scout ships could even perform this mission

Also, per the Black Fleet Crisis, ships in hyperspace are essentially comm blind, in that they can't send or receive transmission. A possible technological development would be to allow the transmission of simple messages to and from ships in hyperspace (little more than text messages).

Just me rambling, I guess.

Like so many things, I compare it to my own experience driving a truck:
-For outside communications, I have a cellphone and a CB radio.
-The cellphone allows me to call anyone, anywhere, so long as I am in range of a cell tower and have good signal.
-However, since I only have 3G, I can't do Facetime (real time AV transmission) because I don't have the bandwidth, so I can do voice calls text messages or e-mails. But if I turned on my mobile wireless hotspot and connected my phone to it, I would be able to Facetime.
-I also have a CB radio, with an effective range of a few miles, depending on circumstances. If I were to purchase an amplifier, I could triple or quadruple my range, both in transmission and reception.
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"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.
Amazing. Everything you just said was wrong.
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Mikael Hasselstein
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Interstellar Communications Reply with quote

crmcneill wrote:
I picture the difference between the full-holo Holonet and the more basic hypertransceiver much like the difference between 3G and 4GLTE cellphone service, in that one has a much wider bandwidth than the other.

I also (mis)understand(?) that the method by which the signal gets broadcasted is different. The way I conjure sub/hyper-space communications (is there a difference?) is that the signal gets sent far and wide, whereas the holonet gets broadcast on a narrow beam along S-threads.

crmcneill wrote:
While the description of the Holonet states that the Empire has essentially taken over the highest end of the network (i.e. the real-time 3D hologram communication with essentially unlimited range) and reserved for purely military or high-level government use, the ability to send 2D real-time audio/video transmissions is still available (if very expensive), and the ability to send one-way data packages (i.e. recorded videos, emails, etc.) is in even more common use. It is this low-band connection available to the public (at a price) that comprises "HyperNet" as opposed to the Holonet.

So is this 'HyperNet' over sub/hyperspace networks, as opposed to HoloNet networks - or are these not actually separate networks?

crmcneill wrote:
Subspace Comms have a dual use, in that they can connect to the closest Holonet Transceiver as well as providing direct communications. IMC, they also have the ability to generate more accurate astrogation coordinates using signals received from Holonet Transceivers (in effect, treating the Holonet as a Galactic Positioning System). 25 light-years is the normal range, but it can be boosted over 100 lightyears with sufficient power (and not just by Star Destroyers; per The Far Orbit Project, Nebulon Bs are also equipped with subspace radios in the 100+ lightyear range).

Interesting. In the way that I have thought about figuring out one's location, it was a process that I've called 'autolocation' - whereby the optical sensor array senses the skyline, and the nav computer interprets the visual data, against its database of star charts.
Your method of GPS would have this be a faster process, given that the nav computer has less work to do.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Interstellar Communications Reply with quote

Mikael Hasselstein wrote:
I also (mis)understand(?) that the method by which the signal gets broadcasted is different. The way I conjure sub/hyper-space communications (is there a difference?) is that the signal gets sent far and wide, whereas the holonet gets broadcast on a narrow beam along S-threads.

But if hypercomm could broadcast far and wide with unlimited range, there would be no real need for the Holonet, as limitless range would eliminate the need for a satellite array to relay the signal. It's certainly possible that hypercomm communications independent of the Holonet's satellite network do exist, but I would cap the range.

Quote:
So is this 'HyperNet' over sub/hyperspace networks, as opposed to HoloNet networks - or are these not actually separate networks?

My take is that they use the same satellites but one has a massively higher bandwidth than the other.

Quote:
In the way that I have thought about figuring out one's location, it was a process that I've called 'autolocation' - whereby the optical sensor array senses the skyline, and the nav computer interprets the visual data, against its database of star charts.
Your method of GPS would have this be a faster process, given that the nav computer has less work to do.

A navigation system could use both methods to maximize accuracy.
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"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.
Amazing. Everything you just said was wrong.
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