Users have reported an outage on Sky TV services across New Zealand. A short note on Sky's website information that this outage is being caused due to problems with the Optus B1 satellite.
At this time there are no Sky satellite services available. SKY Sport 1 is Free to Air on UHF for the duration of the Live Cricket Awards.
The Optus B1 satellite that provides transmission capability for Sky Digital and a host of other broadcasters in New Zealand and Australia like TVNZ, ABC and SBS has reputedly suffered a stabilisation system failure.
Reports are coming in that the failure has affected New Zealand Fire Service in-fill paging, some air traffic control functions and certain interbank transmission running over the B1 satellite.
Sky's 650,000 customers in NZ were not given an estimated time for the fix, only a message that the TV provider is working with Optus to sort things out as soon as possible.
Due to this stabilisation system not working, the satellite is spinning around and is currently unable to receive control telemetry signals from earth. The telemetry antenna is facing the sun and not able to receive any commands from the base station. With the antenna facing the sun, thermal noise increases making it even harder to get commands through to the satellite's processors.
Unless Optus manages to regain telemetry to the satellite, fears are that it may be lost forever. It is not known at this stage what if any backup Sky has for its transmission services, should the B1 not be recoverable.
The Optus B1 was one of the busiest communications in the Asia-Pacific region, and is owned by Singapore's national telco Singtel. It is almost fourteen years old and was running on a backup control system already, before the failure happened. A new satellite, the D1, is expected to be launched mid-year.