The HyperPulse Generator (HPG) arrays are based on numerous worlds all across the Inner Sphere. ComStar owns and operates these, collecting payment from those who wish to transmit messages. The FTL devices are the primary means of interstellar communications, and ComStar has a virtual monopoly on their usage.
A HyperPulse Generator (HPG) is a variant of K-F drive technology based on an obscure speculation by Kearny and Fuchida that it might be possible to create artificial jump points. This proved correct, but the energy costs were such that it was not possible to send a ship through. Instead, the effect was harnessed to transmit electromagnetic signals - communications.
Each HyperPulse Generator is essentially a small physics unit (with mobile units being as small as nine tons) which is able to fire a "pulse" through hyperspace to a receiving HPG. Because the HPG's messages are not burdened by tens or hundreds of thousands of tons of mass, the maximum range of an HPG pulse is 50 light years, while a ship can jump a maximum of 30 light years.
Each pulse can carry terabytes of compressed information, everything from simple text, to books to video. One millisecond of transmission time, just enough for one page of bare text, is equal to one C-Bill, with larger items taking longer and thus having a higher cost. On average the time for transmission of a non-priority message between Terra and Tharkad takes about a week, and from Terra to the limits of the explored the Periphery about six months.
The HPG network is based on a simple two-stage system of primary HPGs (the Prime or First Circuit), and a secondary network of hyperpulse relay stations (the Outer Circuit). Transmission stations are categorized by a rating, either A, B, C, or D. Class A HPG's serve as regional hubs while Class B units serve off the Class A network. Class C and D stations are lower priority Periphery and portable transmitters. Most stations in the Inner Sphere are class A or B stations, meaning that they transmit regularly and have high volume capacity. Class C and D stations transmit once a week or month, sending a few batched messages. As transmission is expensive, messages are frequently bundled into batches of hundreds to be sent simultaneously. While the First Circuit consists entirely of Class A stations and transmits daily, if not multiple time per day, for the Class B stations of the Outer Circuit it may be days or weeks before a message is sent, though one can pay a higher fee in order for "priority service" .
The side effects of an HPG include substantial EMP that can temporarily disable battlefield targets. However, an HPG is designed to carefully target objects moving in predictable patterns many light-years distant (i.e., HPGs on other planets) and is thus essentially unable to "attack" battlefield targets .
While first developed by the Star League during the period known as the Good Years, the origins of the HPG can be traced back to the equations of the great Professors Kearny and Fuchida. In one obscure section of their papers, published in 2022, they speculated on the possibility of creating artificial jump points and they provided the equations for generating them. Because the costs would have been astronomical, the scientific community did not pursue these hypotheses any further.
In 2614, First Lord Cameron appointed Joshua Hoshiko as Minister of Communications. The next year, Hoshiko enlisted Cassie DeBurke, a brilliant young professor from the University of Terra (located near the Court of the Star League), to study the problem further. DeBurke realized that the cost to transmit matter through artificial jump points might be prohibitive, but the cost to transmit bundles of energy - modulated energy, such as radio waves - was within the range of modest reactors. For the next 15 years, Professor DeBurke and her research staff worked secretly and feverishly on her theories. The culmination of their work was the first HPG station, built just outside the Court of the Star League, which transmitted the first HPG message on New Year's Day 2630.
By the time of Stefan Amaris’ coup, the Star League Communication Network (SLCOMNET) was at its peak, linking every single inhabited world throughout the Inner Sphere and Periphery, backed up by mobile transmitters aboard many official Terran Hegemony civil-service and military JumpShips and WarShips. With the First Circuit located on the worlds of the Hegemony, the network suffered extensive damage during the Amaris Civil War and among the last decisions made before the collapse of the Star League council was the selection of Jerome Blake as Minister of Communication in 2780, entrusted with restoring the war-ravaged communications network. As the highest-ranking member of the SLCOMNET hierarchy who was not captured or killed during the Amaris coup, Blake’s heroic efforts to maintain communications during the crisis earned him a reputation for integrity.
By 2785, Blake had managed the herculean task of rebuilding the First Circuit, linking the reconstructed A-stations on several key Hegemony worlds, but as the threat of open warfare between House Lords increased Blake recognized the need to prevent the Successor States from seizing the interstellar communications network and misusing it for their own destructive ends. To this end in 2788 Blake seized Terra and reformed the vestiges of the SLCOMNET into ComStar, offering secure interstellar communication to all Successor States that would pledge to respect the neutrality of ComStar's facilities and personnel. The Inner Sphere leaders recognized that open communications were crucial to their survival and agreed to Blake's demands.
Blake created the First Circuit, a council made up the administrators of the First Circuit HPG stations, to administer ComStar's affairs. His successor, Conrad Toyama, fostered a "secret brotherhood" mentality among ComStar's members in order to keep the secrets of the Star League safe. Toyoma's successors continued this trend, almost entirely replacing its corporate structure with a rigid, religious hierarchy, and shrouded its activities in mystic rituals. While continuing to profess neutrality, as the religious trapping clouded Blake's original intention, the ComStar Order used its control of the HPG grid to ensure the continuation of the Succession Wars and eventual sole controller of advanced technology, as well as using it's brutal secret service ROM to protect it's monopoly control of the network and prevent others from deciphering or recovering HPG technology.
With their faith in ComStar's neutrality finally shattered by the actions of Operation Scorpion in 3052, the Great Houses seized control of the HPG stations within their realms. However, initially lacking the ability to run the network they employed the now secular ComStar to do so on their behalf, though the Free Worlds League chose to allow the splinter Word of Blake faction control of the FWL HPG stations. As HPG technology slowly began to disseminate to the states of the Inner Sphere, despite the significant differences between ComStar and the Blakists, the HPG network ran relatively smoothly save for occasional instances Blakists propaganda inserted into messages and their eventual seizure of Terra.
This changed when as part of their Jihad against the Inner Sphere, the Word of Blake instigated a "white-out" in 3068, flooding the HPG grid with white noise, everything ranging between Blakist propaganda to utter gibberish, backing up transmissions for months and creating chaos that distracted their enemies from the Word's activities. After the Blakists were defeated, the HPG network returned to normal operation under ComStar and formed the cornerstone of the Republic of the Sphere, as it did the Star League before it.
However in 3132 attacks perpetrated by an unknown agent or agents disabled the HPG grid. roughly 3/4 of the Inner Sphere's hyperpulse generators were nearly simultaneously destroyed, crippled, or in some other way damaged. Approximately 80% of the A circuit and a large portion of the B circuit were rendered inoperable by a computer virus which used a message cascade to burn out the HPG's transmission core. HPGs with components immune to this virus were attacked by forces unknown. It is unknown why or by whom this was done, but the actions crippled communications. Many important messages are now relayed via "pony express" DropShips to planets without a working HPG. Much like water resources and working factories in Succession War era, planets with a working HPG have become much more important and vital military targets.
- Comstar Sourcebook
- Explorer Corps