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PanAmSat Says All Is Well Up There

Telecommunications: The satellite firm, after some celestial repositioning, says service has been restored for its paging company customers and others.

May 22, 1998| From Times Wire Services

DALLAS — PanAmSat Corp. said it had restored services to all its customers Thursday after one of its satellites spun out of control Tuesday night, leaving tens of millions of U.S. paging and other customers without service.

Paging Network Inc., the nation's largest paging company, said it had restored service to 95% of its customers and expected to be serving "virtually" all of its 10.4 million customers by late today, said Scott Baradell, a spokesman for the Plano, Texas-based firm.

A computer malfunction on the Galaxy 4 satellite cut service to as much as 90% of the 49.5 million U.S. pager users, including those served by Paging Network and PageMart Wireless Inc. Some TV and radio stations that depend on satellites for programming also were left hanging.

"We've restored service to all our customers, said Dan Marcus, a PanAmSat spokesman. "We're in good shape."

Although all PanAmSat pager customers were given satellite capacity Thursday, not everyone was restored to service because some antennas across the country still had to be reoriented toward the substitute satellite, Galaxy 3-R.

AirTouch Paging, a unit of San Francisco-based AirTouch Communications Inc., said "virtually all" of its 3.1 million customers were receiving signals again.

Jackson, Miss.-based Mobile Telecommunications Technologies Corp., which had a backup system, lost service for about 15 minutes and has been operating normally ever since. Mobile Telecom has 1.4 million customers.

Dallas-based PageMart, with 2.7 million customers, had restored 75% of service by Thursday morning.

The failure of Galaxy 4, a nine-foot cube with two solar panel wings, occurred when an on-board computer crashed and a backup system failed to kick in, leaving the satellite in its fixed position but spinning slightly off kilter.

To fix the problem, Greenwich, Conn.-based PanAmSat rerouted celestial traffic.

Signals carrying data for paging, retail-store networks and other services have been transferred to Galaxy 3-R, while television signals will be redirected through the Galaxy 6 satellite, Marcus said.

He said that Galaxy 6 is now being moved to the idled Galaxy 4's current position, which will take four more days.

Paging Network's shares fell 19 cents to $13.94, PageMart lost 13 cents to $9.06 and PanAmSat rose 44 cents to $56.19. All three trade on Nasdaq.

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