Last Updated: 05/07/2005
Communications aboard a vessel are generally one of two forms: voice or data. The ship's computer systems, along with numerous peripheral hardware nodes throughout the vessel, are able to handle both forms. This aspect of the vessel is comparable to the central nervous system of a life form. The vast quantity of data distribution grid hardware ensures that voice and data communications can be conducted from any place aboard the vessel to another place with no hindrances. While the hardware is the same throughout the vessel, the ways they are utilized can differ and are elaborated upon in this document. When docked at a Starfortress or other facility, communications generally occur through physical connections between the data distribution networks of the vessel and station.
Communication System Hardware (Internal)
Dedicated intraship communications equipment utilizes over 12,000 data line sets and terminal node devices located throughout the vessel, run in parallel with pure hardware telemetry links of the data distribution grid. This is the primary conduit for voice and data communications aboard the ship. A similar quantity of frequency modulation transmitter link (FMTL) based terminal node devices scattered throughout the vessel act as a backup system. Another backup system runs parallel to the energy distribution grid consisting of 7550 kellicams of copper-yttrium-barium superconducting wiring. The same terminal node devices are utilized in this system.
Each terminal node is a cylinder 5.75gc in diameter and 1 gc in thickness. The casing for the cylinder is made of molded polykeiyurium. Internally it consists of a data and a voice portion. The voice section has an analog-to-digital voice pickup/speaker wafer, preprocessor amplifier, optical fiber modulation input/output subcircuit and digital-to-analog return processor. The data relay section contains two nested circuits consisting of a standard subspace signal carrier module (SSCM) found in most Naval communicators, and a short-range frequency modulation pickup and emitter. Hand-held and portable devices not wired into the data distribution grid send and receive data through the data transmitter/receiver subsystem. Though duplicate FMTL receivers exist in the backup system, the work in the primary system to manipulate data transmissions for broadcast on the optical fiber system.
Intraship Communication Operations
To perform voice communication, crewmembers will normally identify themselves, state the location they are trying to establish communication with and/or the individual they wish to speak to. The synthetic intelligence system of the communications-monitoring computers will study the content of the message, attempt to locate the intended receiver, and then activate the communication system of that area. A slight delay in transmitting the broadcast will be experienced as the computer system does the required analysis work. Further broadcasts will be transmitted in real-time.
In Alert Status Two/One conditions or other crisis situations, a high-speed processing system will be activated. This special condition will give priority to processing messages to and from the Bridge and other primary operating areas (Engineering, Weapon control stations, etc.) to insure that orders go out quickly and situation reports can be received quickly.
Communications can be facilitated between any standard Klingon hardware equipped with FMTL-based or SSCM-based devices by manual key press or a verbal command to the computer. Before processing the request, the computer will seek authorization to perform the requested action. Authorization includes:
Key presses for specific hardware.
Verification of device type.
Data transmission protocols.
Multiple device sequencing protocols.
Either manual input or verbal request may perform securing of the broadcast(s). This is dependent on the equipment involved in the communication and their location(s).
For guests, all visitors to the vessel can retain any communication equipment (communicator badges, hand-held communicators, communicator stations, etc.) they bring aboard. Their operating frequencies are programmed into the ship's systems to allow them to be recognized.
(NOTE: This refers to communication between external locations in relatively close-range (approximately 19,000-30,000 kellicams [orbital distances]). Communication with locations very far away (significantly beyond orbital distances) will work the same way as SHIP-TO-SHIP communications described below).
The main computer will route communications external to the ship through the FMTL-based and SSCM-based systems. Frequencies are routinely set aside for external communications as backup to the SSCM-based system. FMTL-based communications are subject to speed-of-light limitations, so time and distance considerations exist to limit their usage.
Communication System Hardware (Medium Power)
The FMTL-based system consists of 15 quadruply redundant transceiver assembles cross-connected by the data distribution network and copper-yttrium 2153 hardlines and is linked to the computer communication processors. These assemblies are partially embedded within the hull structure in a manner that maximizes antenna coverage around the vessel, yet keeping antenna timesharing loads manageable.
Each transceiver is an octagonal solid measuring 1.5 cams across and .25 cams thick. There are separate voice and data subprocessors, eight six-stage variable amplifiers, real-time signal analysis shunts, and input/output signal enhancers at the hull antenna level. The FMTL-based system is powered from Type III power taps off the power distribution grid. Limitations to the FMTL-based system come from the speed-of-light nature of this form of communication. This system is usually limited to distances of approximately 5.2AF (Astral Factors). Channeling the broadcast through the main deflector array has been able to broadcast a signal of acceptable clarity up to 1000AF, but there is no practical application for this as long as the SSCM-based system is available.
Just as the warp propulsion system is more powerful than the impulse propulsion system, the same comparison can be drawn between the SSCM-based system and the FMTL-based system. The SSCM system requires approximately 100 times more power to move the signal into the range of subspace frequencies. The benefit of this system is a dramatically improved-quality broadcast signal. Personal communicators do not require vast amounts of power to operate as long as the vessel is in range to have its much more powerful and sensitive transceivers utilized. Personnel operating on a planetary surface or other area off-ship over a wide area can utilize the vessel or other communication equipment as relays and boosters to maintain contact with each other.
Twenty-five medium power subspace transceivers are built into the hull structure and distributed widely similar to the FMTL equipment. Each transceiver is contained in a trapezoidal-shaped solid measuring .575 x 1 cams and .5 cams thick. These operate on a Type II electroplasma power tap with a maximum power load across all 25 nodes of 1.43x102 megawatts. Each transceiver contains voice and data processors, electroplasma power modulation enhancers, subspace field coil subassemblies, directional focusing arrays and related control hardware. The interface between the data distribution network and the SSCM system consists of a combination of real-time communication and synthetic-intelligence software. Synthetic-intelligence systems are installed due to the FTL nature of subspace communication and the need to overcome time lags that would result from the main vessel computer trying to work with another FTL system with a slower connection between them.
This system is generally used for maintaining contact with away teams, ground forces, intelligence-gathering operatives and communication with local personnel. The SSCM system is also tied into the transporter system to perform beam up/beam down operations. A minimum of three transceiver arrays are required to achieve a reliable transporter lock. The maximum safe distance for a lock is approximately 20,000 kellicams due to a median matter stream blooming tolerance of .005 arc-seconds. Contact originated outside of the vessel is categorized into one of two ways: crew-initiated and outside originated. Crew-initiated communications (include those from Marine or Diplomatic Corps personnel attached to the vessel) will be directed immediately to the intended recipient. Externally originated transmissions are routed through security before being sent on to the recipient (if approved by Security or a senior command officer). Transmissions classified as "Emergency" will be routed directly (Security being alerted to it if the protocol used for the transmission allows them to be notified. Some "Command Only" transmission protocols will bypass security-monitoring systems. These are only available to high-ranking personnel within the Imperial Military).
The FTL processors of the communication system perform broadcast encryption/decryption work. Encryption algorithms are changed on a cyclic scheduled determined by High Command. Each vessel possesses unique algorithms.
NOTE: All broadcasts are encrypted for security purposes by order of High Command via Imperial Security General Directive IS-070567JF0602.
(NOTE: As mentioned above, this also covers ground communications beyond the limit of the medium-power transmitters [limited to approximately 30,000 kellicams]).
Communication System Hardware (High Power)
The long-range communication equipment consists of 12 ultra-high power subspace transceivers. Each unit is a trapezoidal solid 3 x 2 cams and 1.5 cams thick. These units are installed below the hull skin. The antenna arrays are the only devices in the outer 5.67 gellicams of the hull skin layer. Direct field energy waveguides connect these to the transceivers. Due to these broadcasts being made at either sublight or at warp speeds, the transceivers include a sublight signal processor, warp velocity signal processor, adaptive antenna radiating element steering driver, relative velocity sending/receiving compensators (RVS/RC), a combined selectable noise/clutter eliminator and amplifier stage and a passive ranging determinator. The computer processors manage encryption/decryption.
Transmissions have a maximum data transmission rate of 19.3 kiloquads/second. A signal packet containing all necessary information about the sender generally initiates transmissions. Security personnel often do routing. Routine transmissions between scientific, technical and operational offices are cleared by security at initial contact, then are conducted real-time. Alert conditions will determine how much involvement security will have in managing broadcasts. In cases of voice transmissions between personnel, there can also be data transfers along multiple subchannels. These secondary broadcasts often contain information being exchanged between those speaking. Transmissions going out can also include ship logs, sensor recordings, strategic/tactical analyses and ship/crew information. Incoming data can include navigational database updates, news updates, summaries of logs from other vessels/Starfortresses/outposts, orders/advisories and other information.
SUBSPACE COMMUNICATION ARRAYS
Even subspace communications have limitations of range and signal quality. These broadcasts will eventually decay until they can not longer maintain the power necessary to keep them in subspace. Because the decay is not even throughout the transmission, the amount of signal degradation grows quickly. Under ideal conditions, subspace signals travel at a rate roughly equivalent to Warp 9.9997. This is faster than a vessel's maximum warp by a matter of about 60x. This results in a maximum communication range of about 22.65 light years.
This condition has required the creation of a network of communication arrays scattered throughout Imperial territory. While most of these are automated buoys, others are manned stations. These are distributed at ranges of approximately 20 light years. They are concentrated along trade routes and along border areas. They are also located in areas of frequent conflict within Imperial territory. These facilities are supplemented by the High Council's political communications network (overseen by Imperial Security). In addition to these are buoys operated by various Houses. These are generally located within House territory or a short distance outside of the House's territory. Such stations are required to make some of their signal-handling capacity available for Imperial usage.
In addition to these systems are smaller arrays routinely carried aboard all large Imperial vessels. These are deployed into areas that the host vessel will be operating in until Imperial Engineers can install permanent devices. Approximately 650 booster arrays are activated annually. Research into ways of driving signals "deeper" into subspace is a continuous effort. Success in this field is hoped to be able to increase the effective range of subspace communications before signal degradation occurs. This would allow a significant reduction in the number of booster arrays needed in Imperial space.
War with the Dominion has created numerous problems for the Imperial communications network. The initial thrust by Dominion forces after their absorption of the Cardassian Union has result in the loss of numerous communication buoys due to hostile forces. Shortly after this began, an effort was made to recover as many buoys as possible before they could be destroyed. Those that could be saved have been withdrawn deep into Klingon space and put into storage until it is safe to redeploy them. Enough devices were left in place to maintain a communications network. Where possible, these devices have been placed near commercial and military spacelanes to allow their condition to be monitored by passing vessels. Those found to be destroyed are replaced as quickly as possible. These conditions have forced many broadcasts to be delayed due to great amounts of rerouting having to be done to overcome the loss of buoys along intended communication routes.
PERSONAL COMMUNICATION DEVICES
In the last three decades, handheld personal communicator devices have transitioned from handheld units into badges that are worn on the left arm of the person's uniform. Handheld units are still popular among Marine forces deployed in the field due to their increased range and duration of its power supply.
These units are currently constructed of a polyduranium outer shell with tempered baakonite internal structures. The outer surface of the badge normally features the emblem of the person's duty posting (station, outpost, vessel, Marine unit, Diplomatic office, etc.) An optional practice among Marine forces deployed to non-Marine stations and vessels is to include a miniaturized version of their host's emblem to indicate where they are assigned. Those used by personnel not in active military service may choose to have the emblem of their House, cleric order or other recognized group depicted on their communicator.
Communicator badges today have a normal operating range to another communicator badge of approximately 500 kellicams, declining in range from local interference, need to penetrate geological and/or construction materials, reduced power charge, etc. Real-time links to other communication-capable equipment can increase the range depending on the capability of the other equipment. Personnel can also use communicator badges to establish contact and control over spacecraft computers within communication range, such as orbiting shuttles and transport craft. Power cells are initially rated for approximately 50 standard days of operation with a performance reduction in duration of operation of 1-2% per year.
Technological exchanges with the Federation in recent years have resulted in the incorporation of a universal translating component able to function independently of being able to link with a larger computer system. Normally programmed with the Federation standard language and other major powers commonly encountered, languages of races expected to be encountered on deployments, landing parties and other missions can be added to the communicator's database. Some of the language storage capacity incorporated into Federation communicator badges have been reallocated into the installation of a faster computer processor for translation operations and other functions.