QUOTE(Canthros @ Jul 30 2010, 03:25 PM)
I thought that, too, but I think you'd run into issues with data corruption utilizing broadcast methods across interstellar distances. Even utilizing a tightly beamed transmission method at a distance of light minutes, I think you're going to have problems with data corruption due to interference from other objects (oops! we lost those bits because a weather satellite crossed the path of our transmission signal, or because a pulsar just happened to emit radiation on that frequency, or ...). That argues for a lot of bits dedicated to error correction, which translates into low bandwidth for data, even if the bit-wise throughput is as fast as you can pump it or faster.
The proverbial station wagon full of magnetic tapes would win out here.
Plus, you've got to figure in just what it'd take as far as equipment and personnel to simply sit there and make sure that whatever bits and pieces of data come through are coming through intact. While it might be logical to have someone somewhere trying to ensure that military or governmental communiques get from A to B in one piece, I highly doubt that (in a realistic scenario) anyone's gonna care about the schmuck who's trying to use Napster or play World o' Warcraft.
And when you consider just how many people would likely be trying to access the net at any given time for any given reason, you've got a massive load on a system that can probably not hack all that much to begin with.
OTOH, for precisely that reason, FTL travel must also be astronomically more expensive FTL communication. Any method that allows the transport of matter allows for the transportation of information, after all. What this sort of scenario describes isn't one where FTL communication is impossible, just one where the difficulties involved in FTL communication are sufficient to make it worth sending matter instead, most of the time. That is, if you're going to have to generate several trillion megawatts to pop open a spacebridge for a phone call, you might as well spend a few more and send over some people to see what's what while you're at it.
Plus, you've got to figure on the prospect of having a space bridge open indefinitely
for the single purpose of having folks send video, audio, and data back & forth. That'd eat up a jiveton of energy in short order, such that it'd likely be the equivalent of sending a shuttle or two through the system once or twice a day.
Instead, I'm thinking that only "urgent" items like major news broadcasts, emergency phone calls via Red Cross or another such group*, or select major events (such as the State of the Union addresses) would be worthwhile to beam "live", and even then there'd still be a degree of time delay. Everything else would be allowed to lag somewhat, and for the sake of argument I'm assuming that a 4 - 6 hour lag for TV & radio broadcasts and a several second lag for personal internet and telephone communications to be reasonable.
*If the Red Cross or another such recognized charitable organization is asked to deliver an emergency message to a soldier, such as concerning a birth or death in the family, more than a few commanders will give such messages priority over all other personal communications so as to ensure that it gets to the person with all speed.