Beginning around 6:30 am Thursday morning, Shaw Direct customers began telling Digital Home that they were no longer able to receive numerous television channels, including most HD channels.

The source of the problem is a malfunctioning geostationary communications satellites launched by Telesat Canada called Anik F2.

Northwestel, the primary telecommunications provider of the North, also reports that all communities across Nunavut, N.W.T. and Yukon that receive their long distance calling and data service via the Anik F2 satellite are also affected by the outage. The CBC reports people in Iqaluit are without cell phone service and long-distance calling, bank machines and debit-card machines.

Telesat media officials say the satellite is pointing in the wrong direction, away from Earth. The problem, which occurred in the midst of a large solar flare, is not likely to be fixed until later today or tomorrow.

At 5,900 kilograms, Anik F is one of the largest, most powerful communications satellites ever built and is used for delivering Shaw Direct telvision signals as well wireless broadband Internet connections, telemedicine, teleteaching, teleworking and e-commerce in the most remote regions of Canada.

Discuss the outage in Digital Home's Shaw Direct discussion forum.

Update: Telesat released this statement to the press this afternoon.

Today at approximately 06:36 EDT Telesat's Anik F2 satellite experienced a technical anomaly that resulted in loss of satellite services to its customers. Telesat is in control of the satellite and all indications are that it is healthy and can be returned to service. Telesat is now undertaking to return the satellite to normal operations and is working with its customers on Anik F2 to restore traffic in an orderly manner and minimize the impact to their networks. Anik F2 supports a variety of services in Canada and the United States, all of which are affected by the satellite anomaly.