42

Especially in the original trilogy, there are several plot points that imply that there is no faster-than-light communications in the Star Wars universe, other than using a hyperdrive-equipped ship to physically carry information from one place to another. For example:

  • Leia tries to physically take the Death Star plans to Alderaan. If there were a way to electronically transmit the information FTL you'd think they've have just done that, rather than hand-carry the stuff.

  • Leia has to go pick up Obi-Wan on Tatooine. Seems more complicated than sending him a note and/or wiring him some money for a ship.

Some potential counter examples:

  • Vader talking to the Emperor via video chat in ESB and RoTJ. Of course they could have just been close by, and indeed are during RoTJ.

  • Tarkin gets a report of a ship like the Falcon blasting out of Mos Eisley as they arrive. Seems like any comm would have had to travel very fast to beat them to the Death Star as Han and crew were in the Falcon.

So, is there any OT evidence of FTL communication? How is this supported or not by the rest of the canon?

  • 3
    It's an established fact in the EU novels, as well as in the Prequel Trilogy. – Jeff Oct 27 '11 at 16:54
  • Teezl; communicated through hyperspace. – SQB Aug 26 '18 at 18:34
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In The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Vader communicates with the Emperor using Holonet communications.

Since Vader does so in RotJ before the Emperor arrives via hyperspace travel, and in realtime, yes, it's very much a fast FTL signal.

We also know from ESB that it's subject to interference from phsyical bodies. He orders his flagship out of the asteroids to get a clear signal.

Why Leia and Obiwan don't use it is a matter of conjecture; that the Holonet is used by the empire isn't, and it's a safe bet it's owned and monitored by the Emperor.

Leia is committing high treason by contacting Obi Wan. And, she intended to ask in person, but Vader caught up with her first, so in desperation, she sent R2-D2.

  • 2
    Switching my accepted answer because of the in-movie evidence that FTL comm was being used. I had forgotten about the asteroid reference and that Vader and the Emperor had their little talk before his physical arrival via hyperspace. – Adam Wuerl Oct 27 '11 at 15:14
  • Is it really treason to contact Obi-Wan? It's hard to commit treason by contacting someone who no longer exists, and I'm pretty sure Obi-wan was officially dead (like the rest of the Jedi) – Jeff Oct 27 '11 at 17:40
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    Contacting a Jedi certainly would be treason by itself. Unless you're a bounty hunter planning on turning him in. The Jedi Order was destroyed by the empire. Plus, she's attempting to recruit him into the rebellion - rebellions are inherently treasonous. Until they win. – aramis Oct 28 '11 at 3:07
  • @aramis: Sorry, I think my humor didn't come through correctly - I was trying to point out that contacting Obi-wan wasn't the treasonous action, it was transferring the Death Star plans (who's theft and possession were also treasonous). – Jeff Oct 28 '11 at 13:29
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    @jeff humor in such a forum is inappropriate and going to be missed 90% of the time. And my response to it is sans-humor. Contacting Obi Wan, a man under a death sentence as an enemy of the state, is most certainly a criminal act against the state, and by a member of the state government, probably treason. – aramis Oct 29 '11 at 9:34
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Yes. It's called the Holonet. Vader uses it extensively in Empire Strikes Back, both when talking with the Emperor and when talking to his fellow admirals.

Leia can't send things over it because it's government-controlled, and the Empire doesn't really care about its citizens' civil rights - wiretapping isn't uncommon. She's already suspected of collaboration, so she can't send the plans or a note via the Holonet.

From Wookiepedia:

When Emperor Palpatine assumed power, large portions of the HoloNet were shut down to prevent news of the Empire's atrocities from spreading quickly. During the time of the Empire, the HoloNet was strictly controlled, used mostly for Imperial Military communications. This greatly inhibited the ability of groups like the Alliance to Restore the Republic to communicate, and arguably also had an isolating effect on the many planets over which the Empire held power.

Obi-Wan is unlikely to use the Holonet - he is a wanted man, and not active in anything other than protecting Luke (from a distance).

Ergo, the Rebels have to physically travel between stars, and the Emperor can chat with Vader about lunch from halfway across the galaxy.

In the prequel trilogy, evidence is even more widespread: Jedi communicate in real-time across vast distances.

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    And for simple proof, there are several Jedi Council meetings with FTL communication, where the missing members appear as holograms. We even see one from Yoda's point of view when he's with the Wookies and sits at a round table and the Jedi Council appears on the table and he appears in the council chambers in real time. – Tango Oct 25 '11 at 6:05
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    @Tango (and Jeff) Anything from the original trilogy? The Jedi councils don't show up until Lucas started destroying my childhood and abusing copyright protection. :) – Adam Wuerl Oct 25 '11 at 11:47
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    @Adam: You provided it yourself. According to the EU novel Shadows of the Empire (which includes the ESB scene you referenced from the Emperor's side and doesn't contradict the movies) the Emperor was on Coruscant at the time. Similarly, I believe this is mentioned in the novelization of ESB. – Jeff Oct 25 '11 at 14:04

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