Wednesday 28 October 2015

Communications For The Masses

Thanks to Jubal of Exilian for the topic.

In a frontier land like Alyeska the ability for long distance communications can be critical to the survival of a settlement, whether it is under attack or running dangerously low on supplies. Originally such communications were made by the use of semaphore telegraph, a system of conveying information by means of visual signals, and post riders over short distances. Electrical telegraphy later came to the fore, providing many advantages over the previous semaphore system, but has now in turn been largely replaced by wireless telegraphy. Likewise, the post riders of old have been completely replaced by air mail.

There are two major forms of wireless communications used in Alyeska, the first is radioteletype and the other is two-way radio. Radioteletype is system of two or more electromechanical teleprinters connected by radio, this forms the bulk of the Alyeskan communications network and is used much like a telegraph service. Two-way radio is used to a lesser degree, typically only by the military, the Air Police and aviators. Both rely on the network of wireless stations scattered about Alyeska that act as rely stations to boost the signal and are capable of transmitting their own messages such as meteorological reports and relying aircraft distress calls. Whilst these wireless stations require a fair amount of manpower, they don't have to worry that much about lines being brought down by harsh weather.

Aside from radioteletype, the average Alyeskan has access to a postal service and a limited telephone system. The present postal service is virtually identical to the original post riders, save that aircraft have taken over from the horses. Mail is still delivered to a central location in a given settlement, usually called a post office, for collection by the townspeople. Most post offices are located in a settlement's general store, but much larger towns may have their own dedicated building to use as a post office. Those who regularly move about typically declare certain settlements for their mail to be sent to, though this can often mean that said mail is waiting for a number of months before it finally gets picked up. The post offices is also where people can use radioteletype, but it still suffers from the same problem that the mail service has in that the intended receiver still has to collect the message on the other end. Taverns can also be used as mail drop points by those wishing to avoid official channels for whatever reason. In the largest cities in Alyeska there is a public telephone service, mostly in the form of telephone boxes and private owners such as businesses or those who can afford a phone being installed. The service is limited to the city where its based, though the Commonwealth is looking at expanding the service.

News and general information are usually spread via the form of posters on notice boards, newspapers and cinemas. Notice boards are common in the smaller settlements, normally found in the town's general store along with a handful of weekly newspapers, and only really with local matters but are still a great source of information for new arrivals. Newspapers tend to be more popular in the larger settlements that are lucky enough to have their own printing press, more remote settlements tend to get newspapers that may be a week or so old whilst the biggest towns enjoy almost daily newspapers. Cinemas are the other means of spreading news, normally showing news reels in between films that run all day. The larger towns have the luxury of having cinemas that are open all week, others either have one thats only open a limited number of days or rely travelling mini-cinemas that stop off in different towns and show silent films that may only pass through once a month. However Alyeskans get their news some of it, especially if its from outside Alyeska, will be out of date by anywhere from a few days to a few months.

It has to be said that the Iron Collective has the most advance and reliable telecommunications service, one that outshines everything else in Darmonica. In the public spaces of virtually of the Iron Collective's towns and cities that exist television like screens that silently display messages and information all day long, the service can be edited to instantly display new messages if the authorities need to urgently inform citizens of key information like during an emergency for example. Thus far none of the other countries have anything that comes close to this system.

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