’Tis the season: Sun outages set to strike

Posted: Friday, September 23, 2005

Now that fall is hear, it’s that time of year again — for sun outages.

People who have cable television, Internet and long distance telephone companies using satellites may have some disruptions in service in October, according to Greatland Communication Systems (GCI).

GCI is an Alaska-based company that provides voice, video and data communications services.

These types of outages can occur anywhere, but people hear about them more in Alaska “because we’re so dependent on satellite for communication,” said GCI spokesman David Morris.

A sun outage is a semi-annual interruption and occurs when the sun is located directly behind the satellite and in line with the antenna on the ground. At that point, the noise energy from the sun is often greater than the communication signal level and may result in loss of signal.

Morris said the interruptions happen twice a year with others occuring in February and March.

The outages could disrupt telephone calls to and from locations in Alaska, the rest of the United States and international locations.

Each outage could last up to 15 minutes.

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

Morris said rural Alaska is most affected by the outages because it is so dependent on satellites for communication.

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