Satellite dish in Austria

"My satellite connection is down," reported the user on the phone. "Can you help me?"

"Sure!" Omar, a support tech for a firm that supplied broadband by satellite, mentally suited up for his latest troubleshooting battle. The service he supported provided decent connection speeds to some remote geographic locations, but was far from perfect.

After collecting some basic data from the user, Omar proceeded to explain the usual suspects. "Most likely, your dish is either blocked or not pointed correctly. High winds and bad weather are enough to push it out of alignment. Heck, I've even heard of toys, lawn furniture, all kinds of stuff knocking into dishes," he said with a chuckle. "How's your weather been lately, sir?"

"The weather's been good," the user replied. "Everything was working fine last night."

"All right," Omar replied. "Well, the good news is that we have a portal we can use to see how the dish is doing and repoint it if necessary. Are you near your computer, sir? I'll help you open it."

He walked the user through the process. The portal reported that the dish was healthy, but completely misaligned.

"No problem," Omar said. "We can use this portal to repoint the dish."

Omar taught the user how to nudge the dish around with the portal's controls. Normally, this was a very fiddly process. In this case, no matter what the user did, the portal kept saying the dish was way off base.

While chewing on a pencil, Omar began to wonder whether the dish was looking for the wrong beam. There were 83 of them, after all. Sometimes, customers moved their dishes into another beam area by mistake.

But, no. According to the portal, neither the beam nor the hardware were problematic. The dish just wasn't getting a signal.

Omar frowned. "Is there any chance you could go look at the satellite and make sure it's where it's supposed to be, with nothing obstructing it?"

"Well, OK," the customer replied reluctantly.

A long, scratchy pause followed as the user moved around without muting his phone first. While Omar waited, he tried to think of further troubleshooting ideas, but he was getting desperate.

"Hey, I think there may be something in the line of sight after all!" the user reported with the breathless wonder of discovery.

"Oh?" Omar perked up, hopeful.

"We put the satellite on the quayside of the Clyde River. Looks like a ship has parked up overnight!"

"Oh." For a moment, simultaneous bafflement and relief stunned Omar. "Well, I ... think we're gonna have to wait for the ship to leave, then."

"Yeah, guess so!" the user replied cheerfully.

"If it still doesn't work afterward, call us back, OK?"

"Will do! Thanks!"

Fortunately, the problem never recurred. When he had some downtime, Omar quietly updated his team's Tech Support troubleshooting guide to include a new bullet point: CHECK FOR BLOCKING SHIPS.

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