AFN weighing options after satellite failure knocks out cable TV in Pacific
January 19, 2005
AFRTS officials in Virginia said Monday that it will be another day before they decide on one of two fixes for the cable outage in the Pacific, and that neither solution will bring full service back for “three or four days.”
On Saturday, the INTELSAT804 satellite over the Pacific Ocean suffered a “major electrical failure onboard” according to Andy Friedrich, chief of Plans and Policy Operations at American Forces Radio and Television Service.
Many viewers in the American Forces Network Pacific region had at least limited, three-channel television service again Monday thanks to AFN’s Direct-to-Sailor satellite system, AFN officials there said. The three channels are AFN News, AFN Prime Pacific and AFN Sports.
That was good enough, along with radio broadcasts, for just about everyone to catch this weekend’s football action, Friedrich said.
Technicians worked through the three-day weekend, Keith Lebling, an AFN Pacific official at Yokota Air Base, explained Monday afternoon.
AFRTS has two options, Friedrich said. Either would be transparent to the on-base customer but could pose serious problems for those off base using AFRTS’ Direct-to-Home service.
It could buy space on a Japanese satellite, which would require a small adjustment to dishes on the ground that point at the satellite. The downside is that there would need to be a “change-out” of some ground equipment because a different frequency would be coming out of the satellite.
The alternative is using another international satellite, which would use the same ground equipment, but would require as much as a 100-degree shift in aiming the dish, which could be problematic.
“The dish move, from [pointing to the] east to west, in some cases, [customers] would not be able to ‘look’ at the new satellite,” Friedrich said. “There might be a high-rise structure in the way, or they might be on the wrong side of a high-rise apartment building.”
In either case, while some customers could realign their dishes themselves with over-the-phone help from AFN technicians, most would need a visit to their home from an Intelsat or AFN technician. AFRTS estimates there are 3,000 such customers off base.The satellite failure affected all of mainland Japan, Okinawa, South Korea and other Pacific installations from Diego Garcia to Alaska, Lebling said.
An alternate broadcast schedule is available at: http://myafn.dodmedia.osd.mil/tv/assets/Dts15Jan.xls, according to the AFN Web site at www.myafn.net.
Lebling said viewers so far have understood the nature of the problem and generally expressed patience.
“I have had a lot of questions but not even one complaint,” he said. “And when I get questions, I just explain the situation pretty much just like I did for you. They seem to understand we’re doing what we can.”