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In Star Trek, especially during the Next Generation era (TNG, DSN and VOY), we frequently see people having real time, lag free video communications with people in other solar systems (for example, from Deep Space Nine in the Bajoran system to Cardassia Prime in the Cardassian system).

My question then is, assuming no outside interference and zero signal degradation is there any lag factor involved with subspace communications? If so, how far apart would the end points need to be for this to become an issue in practice (where it would be easier to send a written message rather than deal with the lag in a video conversation)?

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There is. Subspace seems to be faster than maximum warp, but still finite.

Though on the show it seems to be either 'real time' or 'too long to have a talk'. But that's probably more because a (say) 3 second lag makes for bad TV.

Original Trek often had Star Fleet communication days away, so orders were sent 'written'. As did Next Gen.

But really, it all comes down to plot. Like all TV sic fi. :)

  • In the original series this is much more frequently displayed. Enterprise would send messages to Starfleet Command and the response would come later in the episode. In the newer series, this isn't as frequent. But if you notice, when Picard calls Starfleet, he's usually talking to an Admiral on a relatively nearby Starbase, not back to Earth like in TOS. So delays are not common. Plus, there's that whole tv thing. :) – BBlake Jan 28 '12 at 14:26

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