Wow. SkyTV, New Zealand’s sole Pay TV provider is totally off the air across all of New Zealand tonight. Their support lines are overloaded, and even their website appears to be failing under the load of a million angry users attempting to get information. Angry users are venting their spleens in various public forums. My digital decoder box gives a lovely informative message: “The disturbance to your viewing is due to atmospheric conditions. Your picture will resume shortly.”
Slightly more informative messages point to the fact that the satellite had a major failure 18 months ago and was switched to its backup processor:
Optus B1 had some major failures last year and was (at least until 6:50pm tonight or so) running on it’s backup processor, at the time Sky was a bit concerned but consensus was that it would probably last a few more years on the backup (the sat had a life of 10 years, from it’s launch in 1992 – we are a long way past it’s expiry date). If that backup processor has failed then the sat will be uncontrollable and then Sky has big problems, either another sat has to be moved to that orbit which would take at least 1 week, probably longer, or they need to realign everybody to a new bird. Last I heard the Optus D class sat launches which were to replace the B class birds were indefinately delayed. Sky won’t be the only thing affected, B1 serves both Australia and New Zealand tv and other communications.
Wow. I can smell the cash burning… And of course there’s the obligatory spoof auction.
Update: the official word is that the satellite failed during a positioning manouvre, and it will take 3 hours to reposition it. This is fishy because:
- I thought it was a geostationary satellite (ok I stand corrected, geostationary satellites need nudging now and again), and
- surely it would have had to be moving out of position for 3 hours in order to take 3 hours to get back into position? Why did someone not spot it going out of position earlier?
Update 2: So the service is still offline 12 hours later. I call bullshit on the ‘repositioning’ claim. Either that or the original positioning failure was actually more massive and permanent than first realised.