At around 7:30pm this evening, viewers were suddenly inconvenienced with incorrect messages such as:
“Atmospheric conditions have temporarily disrupted your viewing. If normal viewing does not resume shortly, please contact your service provider.”
“No Signal. Rain Fade. The disturbance to your viewing is due to atmospheric conditions. Your pictures will resume shortly.”
The problem was, atmospheric conditions seemed normal in most places.
Within a short time, the Sky 0800 759 759 customer service number was jammed and the Sky TV website (www.skytv.co.nz) became unavailable.
Many viewers, thinking their own home setup was at faulty, attempted to adjust settings and re-power their equipment, to no avail.
At around 8:45pm, the Sky website was replaced with a single page message that read:
“We have an outage on SKY’s Optus B1 satellite.
At this time there are no SKY satellite services. We will keep you updated as we obtain more information.
SKY Sport 1 is Free to Air on UHF for the duration of the Live Cricket Awards.”
It has been widely rumoured that Sky Digital has been relying on a single transponder on the Optus satellite and has no backup if that transponder fails. If that were the case then it would mean that Sky Digital services would cease until a replacement transponder could be commissioned. That might not be until another satellite is launched. If this rumour is true, it could mean Sky Digital customers would have a long wait for their service to “resume shortly”.
Update 30 March 2006 10:00pm
Sky spokeman Tony O'Brien says the signal was lost while the satellite was being re-positioned, but that communications with the ground station are restored and Optus will re-point the satellite, a maneovre which should be complete about about midnight. Updates will be published on the Sky website.
So if this procedure is successful, Sky subscribers might breath a sigh of relief.