Satellite services may be disrupted

Posted: Wednesday, October 01, 2008

JUNEAU - The sun's powerful rays may cause temporary disruption of cable television, Internet and long-distance telephone service from Oct. 1-20 as the sun moves directly behind a satellite and in line with an antenna on the ground.

The potential interruptions occur each year around the time of the equinoxes, according to GCI, the state's largest telecommunications company.

Customers may experience interruption to telephone calls to and from locations within Alaska, other U.S. states and international locations. Each outage could last up to 15 minutes, although lengths will vary.

Land-based services such as fiber optics and microwave are not affected by sun outages.

If a cable TV outage occurs, viewers will notice a slow degradation of the picture for up to 10 minutes, followed by several minutes of total disruption. The picture then slowly clears.

These semi-annual interruptions, called sun outages or transits, affect all satellite-based communications. When the sun, satellite and Earth-based antenna line up, the noise energy from the sun is often greater than the communication signal level and may result in the signal loss.

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