More good news about the telephone system : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Y2K Won't Tie Up the Line

by Joanna Glasner 2:00 p.m. 30.Mar.99.PST Pick up a telephone on 1 January 2000, and you can expect to hear a dial tone in most locations, according to a report released Tuesday by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC concluded that the recent consolidation of most of the US telecom industry into a handful of major players had made it easier for the companies to deal with Y2K. But smaller telecommunications companies are still behind schedule in their preparations for the new millennium.

"We are guardedly optimistic about the industry as a whole," said FCC Commissioner Michael Powell, in a speech following the report's release. The telecom industry "is probably better equipped to address these challenges than most."

The FCC reported that the nation's biggest local and long-distance phone companies are nearly finished with their Y2K readiness programs. The agency gave high marks to the seven biggest local carriers -- which together represent about 92 percent of the market -- and to the major long-distance companies that serve about 82 percent of the population.

The 1,200 smaller telcos that compete with the big players appear to be lagging behind, however. The FCC said it had difficulty getting data from a lot of smaller telecommunications companies, possibly because of worries about liability or procrastination in putting Y2K compliance programs in place.

Nevertheless, the government said the telecom industry is better prepared than most businesses because of customer expectations of guaranteed round-the-clock dial tone.

The companies also have their own interests to look out for. In recent years, network service failures -- like America Online's in 1996 and PanAmSat's in 1998 -- dealt a blow to the companies' share prices and profits.

Telecoms have also been taking advanced action to make sure Y2K glitches don't affect one of their most precious assets: their billing systems. AT&T, which runs one of the world's most complicated billing systems, has spent years working out its Y2K strategy.

Y2K preparedness has come at a price. Most of the largest telecommunications companies are spending upwards of $400 million to prevent problems, the FCC said.

Industry groups have organized tests to determine how well telecom networks are protected against date trouble. Still, the telecom industry will have to wait another nine months to find out if its networks are truly Y2K-ready. There are an infinite number of paths a phone call may take from caller to receiver.

AT&T Chairman Michael Armstrong noted the dilemma early on in an initial meeting of the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council, a Y2K readiness group.

According to the FCC report, AT&T analysis found that "testing every potentially vulnerable system in the AT&T network would require 60,000 test years to complete."

-- Norm (, April 01, 1999


And now for the not so good news:

Mumble, mumble, dial tone in MOST locations, mumble, mumble, smaller . . . companies are STILL BEHIND SCHEDULE, mumble, mumble, telecom industry "is probably better equipped. . . than most." [Fudge alert: than most what? Also will noncompliant telcos damage compliant telcos?]

Mumble, mumble, BIGGEST. . . phone companies are NEARLY FINISHED, mumbe, mumble, SMALLER telcos. . . LAGGING BEHIND, mumble, mumble, [NO INFO FROM] lot of smaller. . . companies. Nevertheless, mumble, mumble, industry BETTER PREPARED THAN MOST. . . because of customer expectations of guaranteed round-the-clock dial tone. [Logic alert: Huh? So if we expect round the clock power, the electric industry will be better prepared than most? Anyway, most what?]

. . . Telecoms. . . taking advanced action to MAKE SURE, mumble, mumble, BILLING SYSTEMS [OKAY]. . . . [Sarcasm alert: But you knew that, didn't you?]

. . . Industry. . . organized tests to determine how well telecom networks are protected . . . . Mumble, mumble, HAVE TO WAIT ANOTHER NINE MONTHS to find out if. . . truly Y2K-ready. . . INFINITE NUMBER OF PATHS A PHONE CALL MAY TAKE from caller to receiver. [Hedge alert: there's many a slip twixt cup and lip.]

Mumble, mumble, AT&T analysis. . . "testing every potentially vulnerable system in the AT&T network WOULD REQUIRE 60,000 TEST YEARS TO COMPLETE."

End of translation.

60,000 test years. Tempus fugit.

-- Old Git (, April 01, 1999.

Thank you so much Old Git! I had read that news bit the other day but I got so much more out of your translation!!! Was thinking of you yesterday; wished I could have attended. :-)

-- Lilly (somewhere@some.level), April 01, 1999.

Thanks, Lilly, glad you like. Have you been in touch with Critt? Please e-mail him, setting up Carolinas network, we may get together again before too long.

-- Old Git (, April 01, 1999.

In case anyone's really interested in the data, instead of making such witty comments:

The actual report, available by sector, is at: 2000/y2kcsr.html

Also, the NRIC survey on which it is based is at: fg/fg1/sc1/finalv1.pdf

-- Hoffmeister (, April 01, 1999.

It wasn't meant to be witty. It's actually a rip-off of an Eric Berne mechanism for cutting through extraneous material to the important bits. You DID see the important bit about 60,000 test years?

-- Old Git (, April 01, 1999.

More good news....this past Tuesday, I was at work trying to make my usual 5000 long distance calls to purchase materials and I couldn't make one long-distance call. I kept getting a message saying "All circuits are busy." I joked around that maybe we didn't pay our bill and took it to the people who handle that kind of stuff. They called our long-distance provider who said they were being swamped by calls because MOST of TEXAS couldn't make LD calls that morning. They said, and I quote:

"Well, AT&T was doing some testing and apparently the main routing stations went down." End quote. Richard didn't think fast enough to ask WHAT kind of testing would cause THAT????? By 1 pm you could make a long-distance all again.

Funny? By the way, just for purposes of verification for those interested, our provider is Tel-Co.

-- Preparing (, April 01, 1999.

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