Knockout glitch

Published: Tuesday 15 March 1994

-- NORMAL life came to a grinding halt in Canada when a geomagnetic disturbance hit two of its communications satellites -- Anik E1 and Anik E2. Television and radio transmissions were disrupted across the nation. Canadian Press, the country's biggest news service that feeds information to more than 100 newspapers and 400 radio stations, was forced to suspend operations for more than seven hours.

The corporate world panicked. Telephone companies, manufacturing units, banks and hotel chains were left high and dry. Anxious users are now beginning to question the reliability of satellites. However, officials of Telesat, which operates the satellites, are pleading not guilty. "The disturbance was 100 times greater than any previously detected. And the problem was not caused by defective equipment," they say. One of the satellites was repaired but the other may have to be junked.

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