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March 2, 2021

Cable TV Sun Outages: Who, What, When, Where, and Why?

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picture of earth from space with sun rising on the horizon

Back in the olden days of cable television, often these services were delivered through overhead lines which were often problematic for a variety of different reasons. For example, a car colliding with a pole could lead to outages lasting for hours, or in some cases a customer could go days without reception. The same was true during times of inclement weather, routine maintenance, and repairs. 

Thanks to today's modern technology, the majority of providers deliver these signals from satellites orbiting the earth high above our homes and businesses. However, these messages from space are not without very brief, interruptions caused by sun outages. Often called sun transit or fade, what exactly is this phenomenon? When is it most likely to occur? Let's learn more about outages coming from the brightest star in our solar system.

What is a Sun Outage?

Also called sunspots (which is an entirely different occurrence), a sun outage happens when there is a temporary disruption with cable or satellite services caused by solar interference. It occurs when the sun is in a direct line with these communication devices and the sun's radiation disrupts the signal. It's a naturally occurring phenomenon that we have no control over, and it affects satellite-delivered channels to all carriers using these devices.

Who Else is Affected by Sun Outages?

Pretty much anyone and everyone who relies on satellite communications are affected by sun outages. Depending on the receiver or provider, this could include not only cable television but also certain streaming services or some internet providers that use satellites for online access. 

When Do They Happen?

Sun outages will typically happen during Spring and Autumn months. There's no concrete time or exact date when consumers can expect a sun outage to occur just that they may (or may not) happen at some point during these times. In other words, even if you marked your calendar during sun outages in the past, you shouldn't expect them to occur at the same date(s) and time(s) in the future.

As with any type of naturally-occurring phenomenon, there's no way to precisely predict their arrival. However, although this may seem obvious, sun outages only happen during daylight hours. Think of it this way, there's an old joke about an astronaut who proudly proclaims he is going to land on the sun because they'll simply plan the mission for a time at night. 

How Long do Sun Outages Last?

Now for the good news since sun outages only last a few seconds or minutes in the majority of cases. While there have been very some rare examples of them disrupting service for up to ten minutes, these times are few and far between. The majority of the time, service interruptions are brief.

What Happens During a Brief Disruption?

Viewers usually experience short interruptions in services on channels across the board. The total loss of the picture can happen but usually, customers will see sparkles, images that might appear to be fuzzy, may freeze temporarily, or experience audio distortions. Again, these disruptions are mostly very brief and only happen a few times during Spring and Autumn months. 

During these moments of service outages, there's no need to call for support. Just be patient and they will pass in mere seconds or minutes. However, remember our team of qualified professionals is always here to serve you. Whether you visit one of our many locations during business hours or are hitting up our Brainiacs online, when you have questions, we've got answers. You've got 24/7 access to many of our services that are available online day or night with business-class support. 

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