UK radio disturbance caused by satellite network bug

By Chris Baraniuk, Technology reporter BBC.Com

An error with the Global Positioning System (GPS) network has been blamed for causing problems with digital radio broadcasts last week.

The US Air Force said that removing a satellite from service had caused a software error.

A BBC spokesman confirmed that the decommissioning of a GPS satellite led to difficulties for listeners receiving digital radio signals.

The BBC understands several other satellites were affected.

“I live on the Worksop side of Sheffield and for the past two days the reception of the BBC National Ensemble [BBC radio stations] has been virtually non-existent indoors,” wrote Darcy72 on Digital Spy’s online forums last week.

In a response to the reported issues, the BBC said: “The outages were caused by a rogue GPS satellite (SVN23), which was taken out of service in the evening of 26 January.”

The BBC has now learned that the problem occurred after a decommissioned satellite caused software problems which affected several other satellites.

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Poster’s note – The UK elected to keep its eLoran signal on air in spite of the two other partners in the European Loran system (France and Norway) terminating broadcast at the end of 2015. During this outage the eLoran system operated properly and could have been used to prevent the BBC outages.See graph