Gateway Late Night
Hitchhiker’s Guide Entry
AnsNet is an abbreviation of “ansible network.” It is exactly as described: the network of ansibles that links most ships and technologically-advanced worlds across the cluster.
AnsNet is composed of thousands of relay stations, each administered by local owners. Economic necessity dictates that all of these relay stations talk to each other, as each station charges a data usage fee and virtually every ship that carries an ansible is linked to at least two relay stations with two different service providers. Because AnsNet customers are not limited by proximity, there is strong incentive amongst the various providers to be as competitive as possible.
AnsNet is used primarily for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications. Planetary communications are usually handled by communications networks using other technologies, though all of these local networks interface with AnsNet and use AnsNet for interplanetary and interstellar communications.
Because of the low baud rate inherent to ansible communications, data rates are fairly high. As a consequence, AnsNet is almost purely text-based. AnsNet has the capability to transmit large files, such as media files, but because of the high costs involved, this is rarely done and treated as a luxury.
AnsNet is envisioned as being similar to the BBSes that existed prior to the advent of the web. It is used for applications similar to email, IRC, instant messenger protocols, message boards, text MUDs, RSS, Usenet, basically anything that can be expressed solely through text. AnsNet can transfer larger files, but doing so is extremely slow and expensive — a picture (100k) would take five minutes to transfer under ideal conditions, while a movie (700mb) would take about 27 days.
Because the ansible is dedicated data transfer, there is no need for the periodic “check ins” that were typical of early BBSes; it functions exactly like dedicated internet only extremely, extremely slowly.
AnsNet is by far the main means of communications between worlds. This has had some interesting side effects, notably that text-based forms of entertainment (novels and short stories) are extremely popular. Visual entertainment and information distribution are extremely popular locally, but getting such media off-planet generally requires it to be transferred via physical media, as tying up the ansible for almost a month to transfer a single movie would be unacceptable.