Long-Range Communications
Starfleet ships may be deep in space, but a sophisticated communications network allows them to keep in contact with other vessels and never be entirely isolated.

As part of their mission of exploration, Starfleet vessels regularly send message over enormous distances. This is made possible by the use of a series of ultra-high power subspace transceivers that are normally located just below the starship's hull. Vast amounts of information often have to be trafficked at great speed, and a typical Starfleet vessel is designed to receive and transmit more than 18 kiloquads of date per second.

Subspace frequencies can carry electromagnetic signals at faster-than-light speeds and allow almost instantaneous communications with distant locations. Under ideal circumstances, a subspace message has a range of 22.65 light years, so transmissions are boosted by an interstellar network of subspace relay stations after being sent. Subspace transceivers onboard ship are designed to function at both sublight and warp velocities. Starship transceivers include both a sublight signal preprocessor and a warp velocity signal preprocessor, an adapting antenna radiating element steering driver, a passive range determinator, Heisenberg and Doppler compensators, and a signal cleaning and amplifying stage. Computers automatically ensure that an incoming signal is as clear as possible, but personnel may need to make manual adjustments. A typical ship-to-ship transmission is initiated when one ship sends a hailing signal packet to another. The receiving ship's computers sense, decrypt, and verify the packet's security protocols. The hailing packet then identifies the calling ship and supplies the data. A large ship with hundreds of crew members is likely to receive an ongoing barrage of official and private communiqués. All messages are automatically delivered to the proper terminus upon security clearance. Many races and organizations other than the Federation have access to subspace technology; to accommodate them the transceiver technology on Starfleet ships can be adjusted to interact with previously unencountered protocols. When the main computer analyzes an alien language, it automatically activates the universal translator.

Ship-to-starbase communications work in exactly the same way as between vessels. Contact with a starbase can also trigger a data dump from starship to starbase containing details of ship operations, including data collected, logs, hardware conditions, crew evaluations, and more. All this requires hundreds of subspace channels. The data stream goes both ways, meaning the starship is able to receive mission orders and condensed information from other starships.