March 02, 2011

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Blame It On the Sun: Solar Interference Season is Upon Us

Sun fade, sun outage, sun transit. It goes by many names, but what is casually known as solar interference is still the same phenomenon that occurs twice a year, frustrating TV watchers worldwide.

Starting last Saturday it’s possible you’ve noticed some unusual behavior coming from your TV set. Black screens, picture tiling and image freezing can be expected between February 26-March 10 due to solar interference. We last reported on this in October. Here we go again.

A quick recap: solar interference is just what it sounds like. As the sun moves lower in the sky each day, there are times when it is in direct line behind a signal-sending satellite. While the antenna dish on the ground is aimed skyward to receive transmissions, the interference from the sun overrides the satellite’s signals. Zap. Tile. Freeze. Aargh.

(For a more intellectual look at how this works, Intelsat’s got the goods.)

The good news is service resumes as the satellite moves. The bad news is there’s nothing our customers can do to avoid this from happening.

For the record, this occurrence is an inherent part of satellite operations, and not an outage caused by issues at our cable plant. We take the heat for a lot of service problems (sometimes rightly so), but there’s nothing Time Warner Cable can do to prevent the sun from overriding satellite signals. I’m sure we’ve asked.

There is a possibility you won’t notice any disturbance at all, though. The impact to Earth-orbiting satellites — and consequently your cable channels — can last from 5-10 minutes a day.

It’s a short-lived phenomenon and one that comes with the territory. If you do find your service fussed up beyond this period, please contact us. We also have great online care teams on Facebook and Twitter to assist struggling customers.


  1. Rose Le's reply

    Wow. This is really fascinating. This would be great “Scientific Facts About Cable” for the STEM student audiences. I’m reposting on my FB page!

  2. Angel's reply

    The past couple of days our cable has been messing up freezing & my husband has been getting mad about it. I guess this is why. We are thinking of switching cable companies soon cause Time Warner is too high even tho I like it. They should offer there 2nd dvr box for free too like other companies.

  3. Tirevs's reply

    go grab you a roku box and internet connection and you can watch anything you like. 🙂

  4. Exar Kun's reply

    It is worth noting that this happens to satellite companies, FiOS, and AT&T too. So switching to another provider won’t prevent the issue.

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