The Interstellar Communication Grid (a.k.a. the Grid) is the current iteration of what was once known as the Internet. Many of the fundamental ideas remain the same, but the actual logistics of the system had to be upgraded in order to accommodate the ever increasing demands that are placed upon it. The Grid is accessible from all points within any star system that is officially designated as habitated, and a transceiver is usually the first satellite that is put into place around a planet that is undergoing colonization.
Personal Connections Edit
All homes that are built on newly colonized worlds are provided with a satellite linkup to the orbiting Grid transceiver. Network connectivity is usually distributed through a home or building by means of local wired or wireless connections. Some planets make wireless connections impossible due to atmospheric and planetary magnetic anomalies. The average user connects to the Grid through a home terminal using standard interaction methods.
Interplanetary connections are achieved using a network of satellites that communicate with a central hub installation in a location that is close to the center of a system. Local communications are handled by relaying data from the home system, to the orbiting satellite which then relays the data to the central hub, which in turn relays the information to the orbiting satellite of the destination world.
A single transceiver satellite is usually capable of serving up to 15 million connections with a constant data rate for each connection of 1 GB/second. Thus, for worlds more densely populated or with citizens requiring higher data speeds, multiple transceivers are required.
A single hub installation is usually capable of sustaining connections with up to 500 separate orbiting transceiver satellites. This allows one central hub to handle up to 7.5 billion unique connections without experiencing slowdowns or data loss. For some systems even this is not enough, so multiple central installations are needed to maintain data throughput rates.
Intersystem communications presents a larger problem than simply connecting adjacent worlds. To conquer the long amounts of time that even light takes to travel the distances between systems, a new system was developed specifically to transmit data between systems. On board each central hub, there is usually between one and five intersystem communications stations. These stations are permanently tuned to one system. These stations use a gravitational containment field and molecular quantum mechanics to open a wormhole between that central hub and the central hub in another system. This system allows data to be transmitted between stations at an instantaneous speed, so any speed limitation is that of the initial ground to satellite link on either world. Since the intersystem communications stations are permanently tuned to one other system, data must sometimes hop between several different systems before it can reach its destination. For this reason, corporations or entities with large amounts of power will often pay to have a communications station put into place that is tuned to a system where they conduct large amounts of business.
Software and ProtocolsEdit
Unified Grid Messaging ProtocolEdit
The Unified Grid Messaging Protocol (UGMP) is a set of standards that dictate how messages are sent and received between users of the Grid. This is an evolved form of the e-mail and instant messaging seen in the first iteration of the Internet inthe 21st century. Messages can be any combination of text, audio, video, and 3-D imaging. The UGMP supports person to person messaging in addition to community communication portals. Like all traffic on the Grid, messages are encrypted. To maintain complete uniqueness, the message is bounced to several different areas to obscure its origin to any systems trying to listen on the Grid.
All data that is transmitted across the Interstellar Communication Grid is automatically encrypted when it leaves the end users system to when it arrives that the recipients system. The transceivers and other equipment that relay the data act as "dumb" systems, only relaying the data, not changing the relay behavior based on the type of data being transmitted.
Control of the Grid is distributed like the Internet of the 21st century. The major difference is that distribution of personal connections is no longer handled by private businesses, but is controlled by an independent authority. The Network Connection and Regulation Board (NCRB) is comprised of members from all different worlds and political affiliations. They are funded through governmental resources and grants from corporations and groups that feel a need to provide more accessibility to the Network in their area. Any costs that are not covered by these resources are gained by a small per connection fee to the end user. This fee is charged based on the volume of data that is communicated, thus those who use more resources pay more.
The NCRB has taken a stance that it is not to be held responsible for the data that is transmitted across the Grid. Since all data is encrypted, the NCRB has enforced regulations that it does not retain any data that is transmitted, and any log files that is possesses are not subject to search at any time. Since all groups require access to the Grid, they are forced to comply with these policies.
Next-generation Network Data ExchangeEdit
As computing systems advance and more emphasis is put onto large volumes of data, a demand has been created for higher speeds to personal and corporate Grid connections. For this and other reasons a division of the NCRB has begun research into new transmission methods that could move the limit of data transfered from 1 GB/second at home connections to upwards of 500 GB/second. They are currently being very secretive about how this is achieved, but it is said that the change over would not require significant hardware overhauls. It is thought that high ranking groups in the various factions are attempting to gain access to this technology first.