Phone, internet service restored to 39 communities

Telesat is blaming a software glitch for yesterday's satellite problems that cut long-distance phone and internet service to many northern communities.

Telesat blames software glitch for satellite going offline

Telesat’s corporate headquarters is shown in Ottawa. The company says a software glitch was responsible for Thursday's long-distance phone and internet service outage in communities across the north. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Communication services have been restored to 39 communities across the North after the malfunctioning Anik F2 satellite was fixed.

The satellite malfunction yesterday morning disrupted services beginning at about 6:30 a.m. for long-distance and cellphones, the internet, bank and debit machines, and grounded flights in Nunavut.

Services began coming back online across the North Thursday night around 10:30 p.m. ET.

Northwestel reported that long-distance, cellphone and data communications were all operational by 12:40 a.m ET this morning.

This kind of satellite malfunction is extremely rare, said Paul Bush, Telesat's vice-president of business development.

"The reliability is almost 100 per cent – 99.999. Now, you see issues on the ground with ground stations, and you always have operational issues with power, etc. But it's a rare occurrence. So, fortunately we are back online and we'll be investigating the issue over the next couple weeks."

Telesat technicians believe there was a glitch in software recently loaded into the satellite, he said. When a satellite malfunctions, it turns away from the Earth and towards the sun so that it won't disrupt other machinery.

They had to re-load the software yesterday to re-establish control over the satellite and turn it back to face the right direction.