In this case, the connection out of Svalbard is decent - 10 Gb/s, "with a future potential capacity of 2,500 Gbit/s" via currently unused fiber. See Svalbard Undersea Cable System.
One imagines that with the $50 million cost partly funded by NASA, that they also paid some attention to the peering connection at Harstad, where the connection terminates.
would particles have formed differently, or at all?
Many different outcomes are possible. It's not due to "energy vibrating at different frequencies" - energy does that anyway, every color of visible light you see is energy vibrating at a different frequency, for example. But during an event like the Big Bang, properties of the universe that we observe as constants or laws today could have turned out differently.
Victor Stenger describes it as follows near the end of his 1990 paper The Universe: the ultimate free lunch:
Rather than representing order, symmetry principles actually correspond to a state of high disorder; they describe situations where no particular axis is preferred and thus a system has no structure. Order is not symmetry - order is broken symmetry. It occurs as the result of a phase transition from more symmetric but less orderly states, as with the freezing of a cloud of water vapour into a six-pointed snow-flake. Force laws result from broken symmetry.
Those phase transitions as an early-stage universe cools could lead to different force laws, among other differences, in the resulting universe.
There's no standard definition for the term "multiverse", because it's not a term that corresponds to any established physical theory. The theory described in the article has a good claim to the term multiverse, because it's much more than just separate regions.
The region of the universe we're in almost certainly extends beyond the limits that we observe, so there are already "separated observable regions" in the universe we know. The article is talking about a scenario in which multiple Big Bangs occur, so each region is not just separated by distance but also by the nature of the space in that region - how much it has inflated, how fast it is inflating. Each such inflating region is possibly also distinguished by different laws of physics in that region. There would also be non-inflating regions which would have properties different from anything we're familiar with.
Back when other galaxies were first discovered, they were originally referred to as "island universes". This eventually changed to "galaxy" as our understanding of the extent of the universe shifted. If the theory in the article were somehow confirmed (difficult!) then in future, we might indeed refer to that larger space as just "the Universe", and refer to the inflating bubble we're in as something less all-encompassing than "the Universe". For now, though, it would be very confusing if we started referring to speculative constructs way beyond our ability to observe as "the Universe". Multiverse is as good as a term as any.
I spent a good bit of time trying to explain this to laycreatures
Sounds like the blind leading the blind.
You can't naively apply Popper in this case (who in any case is by no means the last word on philosophy of science), because the situation is quite complex: the article describes a possible consequence of existing established theories, including quantum field theory, general relativity, and Big Bang cosmological models. As such, Popper's rules don't say anything about those theories not being science, or whatever.
While it's true that "the math does not lead only and exclusively to that conclusion", it's a valid possible conclusion. As such, given the status of the theories that it's based on, we can't avoid taking it seriously as a possible description of reality. The task then becomes to discover if there's any way to improve our certainty about its correctness or lack thereof, and that's why people like Linde write papers about this stuff. Rejecting this as "not science" or whatever based on one particular view of what science is, is terribly short-sighted, and it's lucky that actual scientists don't pay attention to such nonsense.
One of the interesting consequences of eternal inflation style theories is that in principle, it addresses questions of fine-tuning. One can take the "evidence of fine tuning" as an argument in favor of multiverses in some form. From that perspective, the idea that our observable universe that started with the Big Bang is the only universe is actually the more difficult theory to defend, since we don't know how some of the parameters managed to come out on the knife-edge of allowing the universe to expand to a useful size and have useful properties like the ability for matter to form.
Re Popper, you should look into Imre Lakatos, who pointed out various flaws with basing all of science on falsificationism. See e.g. The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.
The "big bang" is the flat earthers looking out at the horizon, the most distant photons they can see... "yep, that is as far as we can see, it must be the edge of everything!"
No cosmologist says that. The edge you're referring to is the edge of the observable universe, nothing more.
If you *heart* science but suck at it, be a troll.
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