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The Shoals 3GN – everything we know so far

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Get the full details about the next generation subspace communications network under construction in the Shoals.

If you live in the Shoals region, chances are you suffer from poor connectivity to the Federation’s subspace network or poor extranet speeds, but good news came in late 2394 when it was announced that Starfleet and the Colonial Coalition were working together to improve the quality of communications in the Shoals in the form of the second widespread network upgrade.

Supposedly, plans for the network upgrade began ten years before the announcement was even made, but engineers within the organizations providing the current access on Colonial Coalition planets suffered repeated delays when they found that upgrading to the current network infrastructure widely used by the greater Federation would prove problematic, as it didn’t account for the ongoing tetryon emissions experienced in the area of space. At this news, many resigned to having to use the old 2362-dated network.

However, Starfleet has brought in their own communications and components specialist, and a non-Federation citizen is even heading up the project. They expect the overall upgrades to be completed by early 2400 – a gift for the new century. For some planets, however, the upgrade could be experienced as early as late this year.

Here is what we know so far:

Infrastructure upgrades

Work has been completed in three major areas that are key to the
3rd generation network (3GN):

  • Coalition Outpost Loa (also simply called Outpost 3), which originally tracked the Mother Road before it was heavily damaged by a pirate attack in 2394, will be the primary relay for Antor II and Shadow’s Edge, as well as their surrounding minor settlements.
  • Kidman I is a newly-established settlement with whom Starfleet has formed a mutual agreement. Kidman I now hosts a primary subspace communication relay that’s responsible for Meridian and Donova IV, as well as their surrounding minor settlements.
  • Star Station Esperance now acts as an improved relay after extensive upgrades completed this week. They connect Kidman I and CO Loa to the wider Federation.

A view of Esperance, an allied, non-Federation world known as the "Gateway to the Federation" due to its location near the border of the Federation and the Colonial Coalition.

A view of Esperance, an allied, non-Federation world known as the “Gateway to the Federation” due to its location near the border of the Federation and the Colonial Coalition.

Originally there were four expected upgrades, as a new colony to be established in the Thura system would have held a primary subspace relay similar to Starfleet’s agreement with the colonists of Kidman I, but following the reports of a Starfleet ranger missing in that region, plans for the Thura relay were put on hold.

Connectivity test results between the current three relays have been positive, and Starfleet is now looking to upgrade Coalition Outpost Oodnadatta (in an optimal location for Ketar V), though no plans have been drafted as of yet. Havley’s Hope will also need a relay, but no potential ones have yet been identified.

Discussions had with Klingons for Karakka

Colonists located on Karakka have to deal with the worst of the 2GN, as they are located behind the Shadows and farther away from Federation space than the rest of the Shoals all together. This makes upgrading them to the 3GN more complicated, but Starfleet’s engineers issued a response to queries in early December:

“With Karakka’s location, it will be difficult for us to connect them to the wider 3GN. There is no way around this. As such, we’ve contacted the Klingon Empire for some assistance. As Karakka is just outside their territory, we believe it’s more prudent if Karakka has immediate access to their communications network and secondary access to the Federation network until such time we’ve developed a concrete and reliable connection from Karakka to the rest of the colonies.”

Karakka, the most remote Federation colony in the Shoals

Karakka, the most remote Federation colony in the Shoals

At last report, the Klingon Empire has sent a team of surveyors to Karakka to determine what resources would be necessary to improve communications in not only their small slice of the Shoals but also for Karakka. From the Klingon Empire head of communications:

“We will not go into an agreement until such time we have made our own survey. We will make a determination once it has been completed.”

They’re expected to arrive on the colony in June. No word yet whether first reports from the colony itself has made them more open to discussion.

Starfleet reports that connectivity will begin for certain colonies in phases, beginning this year.

Phase One: Subspace communication improvements for within and outside of the Shoals

Subspace communication is one of two typical ways an average person speaks to their loved ones or has long-distance business calls. In the Shoals, it’s next to impossible to get a clear reception using the current 2nd generation network. It’s riddled with static, drops out, and often suffers from delays – and that’s just to other planets located within the region. Speaking to the wider Federation is next to impossible.

The 3GN is expected to bring some stability to calls – while Starfleet is not promising that contact to outside the Federation will improve, they expect that “colonies relatively near to each other” will be able to have an ongoing communications channel open with no static, no drop-outs, and few delays in speed.

Map of the Shoals region

Map of the Shoals region

They’ve not yet specified what is meant by colonies near each other, but it’s rumored that the Y-region colonies (Donova, Antor, Meridian, and Shadow’s Edge) are set to receive this immediate upgrade by May of 2397.

Phase Two: Data packet and letter delivery improvements

The drawbacks of tetryon-riddled space is that colonists still often need to send big files through courier, as the high-density data stream will not make it across the Shoals and into the Federation. As such, letters outside the region take a little more than two weeks to reach their destination, and more often than not, these are sent by couriers for more reliability.

Couriers. In the 24th century.

The 3GN promises to improve data capabilities for letters and data packets with an “express link” directly to a station outside the Shoals. The wait time to receive letters or data packets is expected to cut down for certain regions to the following predicted averages, as stated by the Colonial Coalition:

Colony 2GN Average 3GN average
Ketar 3.5 weeks 2 weeks
Meridian 2 weeks 3 days
Shadow’s Edge 2.5 weeks 4 days
Antor 3.5 weeks 5 days
Donova 4 weeks 2.5 weeks

Note that while Havley’s Hope and Karakka have not yet been added to the 3GN predictions, Starfleet have stated that they should expect a network upgrade by 2401.

Phase Three: Vastly improved Federation extranet connectivity

When the colonies were established in the early 23rd century, no immediate effort was made to connect colonists to the Federation extranet. At present, while it is possible to connect to the extranet, the speeds are well below the average of colonies on the outskirts of the Federation. It is impossible to even search the extranet, let alone game online or stream the latest cooking shows from the Bolian homeworld.

Meridian, the most populous Federation colony in the Shoals

Meridian, the most populous Federation colony in the Shoals

Each planet has their own internal network with dedicated high speeds for every colonist, but the Coalition states that work has begun on Meridian to improve poor access to the Federation extranet. Antor, Meridian, and Shadow’s Edge are expected to see better access by 2399. This includes, but is not limited to, extranet speeds capable of accessing:
  • Low-end Federation standard online gaming
  • ALTRA quality news and entertainment streams
  • Federation colony education resources

What’s first?

Phase one of the 3GN (improved subspace communications) is expected to begin implementation for Antor II, Shadow’s Edge, Donova IV, and Meridian this year, and set to be completed in May of 2397. Check with your governing provider to see if your equipment is ready for the upgrade.

The post The Shoals 3GN – everything we know so far appeared first on Federation News Service.

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