Subspace radio

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Subspace radio is a long-range communications system used by most civilizations in Star Trek. Transmissions through subspace travel faster than light, allowing communications to occur over distances of hundreds or thousands of light-years.


Subspace radio transmissions do not travel fast enough to allow real-time communications over distances of more than a few light-years; it is not unusual for a starship or outpost on the outskirts of the Federation to have to wait hours or even days to receive a reply to a transmission that it sent.

Kirk: Captain to bridge.
Uhura: This is Uhura.
Kirk: What's our position?
Uhura: Course unchanged. Estimating treaty boundary in 21 minutes.
Kirk: Are you broadcasting tactical reports?
Uhura: Affirmative.
Kirk: At this distance?
Uhura: Approximately three hours before receiving a reply to our first message.
-- TOS "Balance of Terror"

Subspace radio is subject to many kinds of interference, both natural and artificial.