April 1st, 2006 at 07:51am
On Thursday afternoon at about 5:55 (GMT+11) Optus Satellite Control lost communications with the aging Optus Satellite B1 during routine orbital positional adjustment. This caused ABC relay stations, Macquarie Regional Radioworks stations, Southern Cross Syndication services, and New Zealand’s main Pay TV service, Sky Television, to stop broadcasting, along with a handful of other Australian TV stations.
Apparently Optus B1 is getting a bit long in the tooth, and has had previous failures, including a complete failure of the main guidance system, which means it is now operating on the backup system, it is also being used well in excess of its original specifications. It was supposed to be replaced by the new Optus D1 satellite late last year, but this has been postponed until at least the middle of this year…assuming B1 lasts that long.
Thankfully Optus regained control of B1, but when they did it was broadcasting in the wrong direction, and they had to wait for it to recharge after the northern hemisphere solar exclipse before they could do anything about it. B1 was back online for its users at 7:17am Friday (GMT+11).
I don’t know what 2CC did about it before midnight as I wasn’t listening, but I would like to congratulate them on not giving up and playing automated music, and instead using the 2UE webstream with a panel operator playing local ads and promos. It did sound a bit rough around the edges, but overall they did a fantastic job under the conditions. I gather that a number of other stations around the nation did similar things with panel operators and webstreams, although there were a few who just went into automated music mode, or played a webstream with the streamer’s ads and all.
Also congratulations to the ABC for replacing some of their C1 services with the lost B1 services so that relays could be back on-air by 2am (GMT+11).
For those interested, the good people over at Usenet Aus.Radio.Broadcast have a good summary of what happened, and what affected stations did.
Heres hoping that D1 is up there soon to relieve the aging and slowly failing B1, as the longer B1 is left up there in its semi working state, the more of these outages we are going to experience, and eventually, we might have a complete failure.