Transcript: Worldnet With Y2K Telecommunications Experts (USIA) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

13 May 1999


(Cite importance of contingency planning) (8360)

Washington -- Telecommunications experts report that contingency planning is "extremely important" for those countries and companies that are just starting to tackle the year 2000 (Y2K) computer problem.

Marsha MacBride, executive director of the Year 2000 Task Force at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), told a USIA Worldnet audience May 11 that her agency has developed an extensive program on contingency planning best practices, which can be found on the Web site .

"On there you will find ways...for telecommunications companies to identify what are likely to be high risk areas and to actually have some recommendations for going around those....And we encourage everyone and anyone to beg, borrow and steal anything that is on our Web site, whether they be practices."

MacBride added that the FCC web site is continually updated to provide an information source for countries and companies that are just starting the Y2K process.

Patrick Serra, department manager for financial systems at Intelsat, recommended that telecommunications companies just starting to work on Y2K need first to quickly inventory their hardware and software to determine which systems are critical to their needs; and second, begin an immediate dialogue with major vendors and suppliers regarding equipment that needs to be tested for interoperability.

Serra said that Intelsat, together with the World Bank, has conducted technical awareness seminars in developing nations around the world, including Jamaica, Togo, China, Uruguay and Jordan, and sponsored a major Y2K conference last October that brought together representatives from 120 countries representing 165 telecommunications companies.

Following is the transcript of the Worldnet program:

(begin transcript)

-- Diane J. Squire (, May 14, 1999



According to a recent report issued by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, the status of Y2K readiness in large firms in the communications sector was assessed as being "cautiously optimistic." The report also stated that small and medium sized firms have waited too long even to begin addressing the situation. How should the public react to these statistics, and what is the industry itself doing about it?


For those of you who don't know Intelsat, Intelsat is an international organization. We are made up of 143 member nations. We operate 25 satellites globally, and we provide satellite services to about 200 countries and territories throughout the world.

We at Intelsat consider the year 2000 issue as a serious one, and we hope that others do as well.



The Federal Communications Commission in the United States is a regulatory agency and predominantly a policy organization that works with industry and members of Congress to promote statutory initiatives of this country. We are not a highly large organization or are very technically grouped with a lot of resources that permit us to go out into the field and look at all of the companies and say, Yes, you are ready, and No, you are not ready.

Predominantly what we have done is adopted a three-tiered approach that allows us to advocate readiness within the industry, as well as to promote assessments and other types of voluntary agreements with the industry to work together to address this problem, and also to promote the preparing of contingency plans which are of course extremely important at this point in time.

Even though the FCC regulates a lot of different types of industry, clearly the telephone network is the one that has the largest impact on most Americans, and indeed most people around the world. As a result, a large deal of our effort is promoting awareness within that community. We have some benefits in that regard in the United States. We have about eight telecommunications companies that serve over 90 percent of the consumers in the country, and these eight large local exchange telephone companies have been extremely active in this process and extremely valuable in their partnership with the United States government on this process. We also know that most of these companies are going to be ready by June, which gives us a large six- month period to do additional testing, and also to constantly watch out for unforeseen problems.

There are probably another 1,200 to 1,400 small telephone companies in the country, and we are equally concerned with them. Our assessments show that they are not as far along as the large companies, but again we recognize that they don't have as far to go. However, we do think that their readiness is extremely important, and clearly a lot of our target audience is that group. We are also worried about emergency communications, as well as just general services that come from telephone, television and radio.


Caracas. (Venezuela) ...

Q: ... Is there a federal agency in the United States which can guarantee to us that communications will be maintained with your country? That is to say that we will stay in touch between Venezuela and the United States starting January 1st -- communications will be maintained?


MS. MACBRIDE: It's important to remember the guarantees in Y2K are hard to come by. I know that the efforts the United States are making to be able to receive phone calls coming into this country are very great, both within the United States and certainly within the efforts of the ITU. I think it's extremely important that all the countries of the world participate in the ITU's process in the regional coordination that is going on with the ITU, and as well as doing as much testing with American carriers as they can possibly do prior to that.

Again, because there are no guarantees, I think it's very difficult to say that there is a way to assure that we are going to have those connections. But I think that the efforts that we can put in through the ITU is certainly where our concentration should be.


Asuncion. (Paraguay) ...


We look at the problem in a series of stages. We found that generally businesses looked at remediation in a series of stages. One was identifying what they had -- which is something that not a lot of people had really done before, and I know some IT professionals call it the mother of all spring cleaning for this type of process. But you're really got to find out what you've got, and then you've got to look at which of them can be impacted by Y2K. You have got to fix those problems, and then you have got to go back and test. This is a long process to start in May of 1999. And we recognize that.

So even though those resources are extremely important for you to be able to do contingency planning, contingency planning really needs to be a big piece of where countries who have not started are looking now. To facilitate that, our private industry corp group that we work with very closely has developed an extensive contingency planning best practices, which can be found on their Web site, which I will give to you now. It is ...

On there you will find ways not only to do your own contingency planning, but ways for telecommunications companies to identify what are likely to be high risk areas and to actually have some recommendations for going around those and planning against problems in those areas. So I would more so than anything recommend that you look at the resources that are available at the FCC's Web site, the NRIC Web site. There are -- from the FCC Web site there are links to testing -- two large testing groups in the United States which will release their data.

You know, one of the things that the United States -- and we talked about from the beginning of this process, is that there is no time for people to redo efforts, to try to beg, borrow and steal. And we encourage everyone and anyone to beg, borrow and steal anything that is on our Web site, whether they be presentations, whether they be data resources, whether they be best practices. Those resources are available to companies and countries around the world, and we try to put as much there up as possible. We change them all the time. We update them. And it is really what we are trying to do, to be an information source for countries and for companies that are starting this process.


Ottawa, Canada. ...

Q: Hi, it's Jennifer Ditchburn (sp) with the Canadian Press here in Ottawa. Has the FCC identified overloading of phone lines as a potential problem by the public simply testing their phones on January 1st shortly after midnight to see if they work?

MS. MACBRIDE: (Inaudible) -- has raised this as a concern from the very beginning -- not only because of the impact people's curiosity or concern the phone network may have on their motivation to pick up their phone, but what will already be a huge mass calling event - Mother's Day times a thousand, we like to say. And, yes, certainly that could have an impact on the ability of a call to go through. You also may have problems of calls going through then just from the traffic on the network, and we want to make sure that that doesn't then create concern that there is a Y2K problem when there isn't. It's just that everyone is making those phone calls.

So there are those calls and also the 911 emergency calls that obviously are priority calls within a system that you could have an impact on those with mass calling. But we want to make sure that people have our level of confidence as to the readiness of this industry to handle these problems and to be watching them, prepared for any problems that might occur, so they don't call or pick up the phone unnecessarily. To the extent that they are obviously making important phone calls, we recommend that they do so.


Q: I'm interested -- this is Jennifer Ditchburn (ph) again with Canadian Press -- what kind of phone will both of you be using in your offices as a contingency on January 1st and thereabouts?

MR. SERRA: Yes, okay, that's a tricky question I think a little bit, but anyway I'll answer it this way: Intelsat of course has its private networks, and what we will be doing the turn of the century is we as a contingency will treat the year 2000 transition just as we do a satellite launch. That means we will have a command team in our satellite control center, and we will be tracking the year 2000, or the sun as it were, from east to west as this happens.

Now, we have private networks with the push of one or two or three buttons. We can talk to our six telemetry tracking and commanding earth stations that exist around the world. So that's mainly what we will be relying on as a back up. Of course we also have the public systems and we have other back-up systems that I won't go into.

But we will also be in touch with customers of ours around the world in 12 different regions. If you break the world longitudinally into 30-degree sectors, we will have customers represented in each one of those sectors that we will be in touch with through our private networks.


Q: ... One of the things that appears to be missing at the global level is a simple definition of year 2000 ready. Is anyone aware of a sort of -- that sort of definition that could be used by some people who are only now beginning?

MR. SERRA: Yes, there are many definitions, so this gets into the problem with the year 2000. There are many definitions of compliance. There are also definitions of certification. The one that Intelsat has chosen to use is the British Standard Institute year 2000 conformity definition. It's a very clear-cut definite with essentially four rules. I won't recite the rules, but essentially they say that your systems will operate through the transition of the century. They will either implicitly or explicitly -- by algorithm or by inference determine that dates can be distinguished. And of course the software and hardware will work for the leap-year transition as well.


MS. MACBRIDE: (FCC) We are -- well, let's just say we have a similar answer. We are part of a large contingency planning that the government has going on. We have private lines that connect us with the large major carriers of the United States if we have a problem with the telephone network that will permit us to continue to talk to each other, to allocate resources. Commissioner Powell at the FCC is defense commissioner, which in certain emergencies has the ability to facilitate resources so that people can fix problems quickly. And we will be relying on that. But I am cautiously optimistic that we won't need to.


Q: The British developed for year 2000 certification is in fact one that could be viewed as a starting point for a global standard. The question I posed earlier is one that I still believe needs an answer, which is the definition for an organization or a business or a country would not be able to use this British definition will need something that countries who are only now beginning could use to see what does it mean to be finished if you use the terminology "year 2000 ready"?

MR. SERRA: Okay, I think again your questions are getting a little more difficult as we go on. I don't know what we'll do in the second half. Each organization needs to identify and to define for themselves what they think "Y2K ready," "Y2K compliant," or "Y2K certified" is. As you know, there are a lot of legal issues tied around the year 2000, and one of the things that is very important is for each organization to come up with a definition of what they mean by "year 2000 compliant."

Now, for the Intelsat program our major objective is a very simple statement. We basically say that the program is there to ensure that Intelsat services go uninterrupted through the transition and into the millennium. Now, there is a lot to that statement. First of all, the operative word is "services." We don't say that we are there to ensure that our systems are compliant or that our hardware is compliant. Intelsat is very much focused on the services that we provide, where those services can be anything from the activation of a carrier on our system to the issuance of a correct and accurate bill.

So therefore I really think there is no one answer to your question. I really believe you have to sit down and answer that question as a definition for yourself in the context of your own business, your own environment.

MS. MACBRIDE: I would also follow up with that. You know, the issue -- you take an IEEE standard and the other standard -- there's really not going to be time left to come up with a definition that everyone will agree with. As you can see, and as you have noted, there are a lot of different definitions of "ready," depending on how a particular company has approached the issue.

For the FCC's point of view, we note this, and talk about it, but really conclude that in a mission-oriented process like Y2K, which is basically to offer the same services at the same quality after the turn of the millennium as you did before, that the standard is kind of secondary to kind of getting the job done. And we have recognized that there are many different definitions, but really believe that people need to be focusing on fixing the problem right now.


Caracas. ...

Q: ... My question has to do with geostationary satellites, which have a long useful life -- 10 years or so. These satellites which were launched maybe 5 or 6 years ago before the Y2K problem came up -- what is the impact on those, and what corrections can be made on those satellites so that communications will be assured?

MR. SERRA: Yes, we are very pleased to announce at Intelsat that all of our vendors have come back and have assured us there are no year 2000 on-board issues with our satellites. Intelsat also meets with what we call the Satellite Consortium on a quarterly basis. We meet with Inmarsat (sp), we meet with Utelsat (ph), and they have all confirmed the same thing. Even though the satellites are perhaps older, they have what is called "satellite local time" -- is the only time that they deal with. They don't deal with relative time. The satellites don't know the day -- 31-12-1999. They essentially have counters that are started so many seconds or minutes are ticked off, and at a certain point something happens on the satellite. So we are quite fortunate that we don't have relative date and time on the satellite, and therefore no on-board problems of the satellites are expected.


Q: ... My question is focused on interoperability tests, and I would like to know what is the situation of interoperability tests in the United States is.

MS. MACBRIDE: There's been a large testing effort in the United States among telecommunications carriers -- in addition to vendor testing -- and we have done -- and obviously the vendors have been an extremely important part of this process. There is something call the Telco year 2000 forum. They have done testing of interoperability between -- systems testing between local telephone companies, and have also then expanded that through another group called ADIF (sp) into inter- carrier interoperability testing. Both of these groups have Web sites, and they are linked too from the FCC's Web page. There is information regarding those tests available on the Web site, and you can also contact them for extremely detailed information on those tests.

Basically what they found in the Telco year 2000 forum testing or the system testing, they found six anomalies which were related to Y2K. They found another 30 or so that were not which they then advised the vendors of. Those six anomalies were fixed. They were retested and came out without a problem. The ADIF (ph) group has just finished their testing, and they didn't find any anomalies. Now, you must remember that these are tests of inventoried and remediated equipment. So if you look and if you talk to them you can find out exactly what kinds of equipment they tested and what their test parameters were. But especially the ADIF (ph) testing is extremely valuable, because it included cellular participants and it also included very, very heavy loads to try to mimic what that night is going to look at. So it was a very extensive test throughout I think just about every available lab in the United States, and we encourage people to take a look at those tests and to contact those groups that stand ready and willing to share their information and help if they can.

Q: ... What measures have been taken to avoid entropy in communications as far as the central switchboards of government and industry are concerned?

MS. MACBRIDE: I'm not sure I understand your question. If the question is what have we done in terms of equipment that exists within a particular company or a government entity, there is a tremendous amount of variation of that equipment, and it really falls to the individual company or government entity to review that equipment, work with the vendor and remediate that equipment.

If your question went to the actual switches that are throughout the network, clearly they are a big part of everything that is going on with remediation in this country. They are a central focus point. They are a measurement by which we assess the readiness of the industry, and all of that information can be found in our report, and I would be happy to get you copies of it if you want to contact me directly, and my name is on the Web page. I hope that answers the question.

Q: ... I understand that the word "guarantee" generates problems because of the legal connotations it has. But if companies are talking among themselves about guarantees as Mr. Serra was mentioning, I as a government representative am interested in having government-to- government talks about how we are going to agree in certain sectors. Let me explain what I mean. We have two basic problems in the telecom sector in Venezuela. First, it's a country which is a consumer of telecommunications equipment, particularly from the United States -- imported from the United States. Secondly, Venezuela has a public services telephone monopoly. This means that the Venezuelan government is concerned -- is worried as to whether or not we are going to have services even though we know that our private company is a rather good and efficient one.

The government of the United States or any other government or group of governments in South America -- I think we should be talking about how we can help each other -- government to government -- not just company to company. I was asked in the United Nations whether we were going to guarantee oil to the United States. We need a flow of communications in Venezuela. You need our flow of oil. You have to guarantee between what governments say and what companies say. Is it possible to have an open forum between U.S. or Latin American governments and governmental representatives representing the telecommunications sector? That's my question.

MS. MACBRIDE: It's a very, very good question, and I think it's part of what's been attempted through a lot of different forums. I can speak personally for the FCC -- spent a lot of time traveling to South America and around the world to try to bring information flow and share our information.

The issue of agreements is slightly outside the scope of the Federal Communications Commission, and this is just an anomaly of this. We are an independent agency. We're actually not part of the administration. We have State Department representatives that we work with that really would be the first touch from a country that was interested in participating with the United States on types of talks. We also have a group called the President's Council for Year 2000 Conversion which coordinates throughout the governments who has also been extremely active in coordinating with the United States. Both those links are on our Web page.

But I would encourage you to go through your diplomatic sources to touch back to the United States -- certainly to the extent that we can participate in those types of events -- we think they are extremely important, and we are ready to do so. But we also recognize that the government, and especially the FCC, as I stated in the beginning -- we are not fixing the problem; we are working with industry to fix the problem. They are the experts in this, and we rely on them to a good deal. We work with them closely so we have a good, strong level of confidence in their processes and in their commitments to this issue. And I think in many ways the best resource for any country is really going to come from the United States from the private industry, and I know they're very anxious to work around the world as well.

Q: ... One of the subjects that we are talking about this year is the creation of a law on liability to third parties as a result of the Y2K problem. What authority certifies whether a company is guilty or not guilty, or liable or not liable. What kind of profile would a certifying entity be or have so that we can figure out what this certifying entity in Venezuela should be?

MS. MACBRIDE: I think if you asked a thousand lawyers that question you would get a thousand different answers -- at least in the United States. Clearly that is a big part of this process. Nobody has done this before. There is no case law on Y2K specifically. There have been some cases out already where we started to define the issue. I think there are contract terms that exist in our laws that are going to be relevant here, but I don't think anybody at this point in time can answer that question.

I also know that the Congress of the United States is grappling with the questions of third-party liability right now to try to help define some parameters. And we are looking for some guidance from them. But that's a question that I don't think I can answer.


Asuncion. ...

Q: ... In our case in Paraguay we began in the second half of April of this year. The United States government began last year. But we just began this year to face the millennium bug. We only have contingency plans left to formulate, because we don't have time to solve the problem. We went to a meeting in Lima with 10 other countries, and we think that the bug could cause one percent damage to the GDP of all of our countries. But I'm wondering about health, supply, energy, telecommunications, et cetera. We have been called the electrical Kuwait of our region. And although there has been progress on Y2K, we have a distributor which hasn't even begun. So the whole electrical system is in danger because of the Y2K problem. If the Red Cross recommended that everybody should have one week of food, how much electricity, how much telecommunications should we have on hand? What percentage of telecommunications companies have enough autonomy to start -- to continue working even if the millennium bug affects the electrical companies? Do you know about that?

MR. SERRA: Well, you certainly touched on a very hard problem in terms of your getting a late start and what can you really do about it. I think we outlined a few things earlier in the program. But in terms of contingencies and what you were asking about how much of this and how much of that we should have, one of the things Intelsat has been doing -- has been working on it quite for some time now -- is to try to scope down what exactly we are going to do for contingencies, to pick out the areas that we think are the weakest and to come up with contingencies there. And the issue of duration, which I think you are talking about -- whether or not you need one hour or one day or one week or one month's work of contingency is extremely difficult, because our analysis has shown this is not a linear thing. The longer that you go with contingencies -- one day to one week -- it's more of an exponential kind of thing in terms of costs and resources. So I don't have the answer. I don't think there are any silver bullets out there. I've often described the year 2000 issue as a grunt work type of issue. It's not the kind of thing that MBAs and lawyers are going to bail us out of. It's basically up to the technicians to get down to the level of testing, and to get there as soon as they possibly can.

Q: ... What are the most frequent problems that have been detected, or as being defined as most probably in radio and TV transmissions? And what are the quantitative and duration forecasts in terms of loss of forecasts that the United States -- loss of broadcast rather that the United States is expecting or forecasting?

MS. MACBRIDE: In broadcast we have a great advantage of a lot of redundancy. If you have a problem with one broadcaster, there are numerous other outlets and sources in most communities in the United States to get the information, and that's extremely important to us from a government point of view because of the emergency alert system which every broadcaster in this country participates in on a national basis. Most do on a local basis. And we think that if there are problems that there will be an extremely important way of getting that information out to the community and letting the community know that people are working on it.

As for problems within the broadcasting industry, the transmitters themselves are relatively dumb as I am told. They don't have a lot of equipment in them themselves that are date reliant. They obviously rely on energy, and many broadcast stations have back-up generators.

The bigger problem comes in the ad insertion equipment where they've got a time when a commercial gets put in, and if they're receiving feed from another source they've got to time when that feed begins and ends. Most of that stuff is done by computers, and those computers have chips in them or have software programs that might have Y2K problems, and that's what's being looked at by most broadcasters.

Cable operators is a similar thing. We were very pleased to find out that most of the cable television set-top boxes, that are in the homes of most Americans anyway, do not have date problems in them, except for some very small number of very highly technical boxes that do a lot more things than just take the cable television in. So that's very helpful. There are obviously similar issues with ad-insertion equipment and other issues in the head ends of cable systems -- as well as billing. Billing across the board, whether it be a telephone company or anywhere else, is extremely important for a company's well- being, its ability to get paid. And billing systems by their nature are date-dependent, and are obviously an extremely important place for people to look for Y2K-related problems.

Q: Roberto Disco (ph) wrote a book about integrated apocalypses. < /b> We in Latin America are thinking about apocalyptic chips. I am thinking about a Christmas season with people buying more food than presents, emptying out the supermarkets more than buying in the stores. This will cause inflation. Thinking about people talking out their deposits, the Bankers Association of Great Britain, and also Argentina, thought there would be a run on banks, making the banks ask for bridge loans and raising interest rates. We see fewer factories open the year before and after the new year, and to the extent that companies are not ready the GDP will fall -- less tourism will happen, both close-in and distant tourism. There won't be as much camping. There won't be as much air traffic -- all of this caused by the apocalyptic chip problems -- in tax collection, so that there will be less taxes taken in, less customs duties collected. This raises two questions, one for after and one before, thinking about that film, "The Day After." What is the role the media should be playing, the electronic media, the day after, in case they can broadcast?

And secondly, for beforehand, for the next few months, and as a communicator I am very worried about this -- shouldn't we be changing our language so that we change our language to the people so we don't provoke paranoia and cause in a certain way all of the awful things I was describing when I started?

MS. MACBRIDE: You have raised, I think, two extremely, extremely important roles for governments in the next nine months, and that is to make sure that people understand enough about what's happening so that their reactions when they see small problems that may or may not even be Y2K related -- you may go to a bank and they may not be able to have a machine that works because the machine is broken, not because there's been a Y2K problem. But that could in fact incite someone to go in and demand all their money, and everyone else then does it, and the whole thing happens, and we didn't even have a Y2K problem. And that is something that the United States government is extremely aware of and concerned about.

So I think information is extremely important. I think when I talk to broadcasters and other news-related people in the United States I am for them to know as much as possible about this issue and how it is affecting your local community, so as to be able to give people real advice about what kinds of problems they may see, if any, and to understand that there are people looking at the problems and attempting to work on the problems.

Managing people's reactions to Y2K, either perceived or real, is an extremely important part of it. I don't think there's any silver bullet for this one either. But I do think it takes having a partnership. That's why the commission has developed partnerships within industry. I think it helps us to have partners in industry around this country that can speak up in their local communities about this issue. I think it's extremely important that we have partnerships among broadcasters to implore them to be -- to not take a story and blow it out of proportion or otherwise try and make something unsensational sensational in order to -- which would facilitate a problem.

And I think for the day after the media, again I think it requires good partnerships with government, and it requires responsibility on the part of the media to really understand the issues that are facing the people in their communities so they can help them with the process, and not facilitate any more concerns.

The Y2K problem is very frightening -- there's no doubt about it -- because it's a new problem, it's occurring at a time when there are all kinds of cataclysms that people are anticipating that are not Y2K related. And I think that it's very important that we manage our discussions about this with the utmost sincerity and with the utmost commitment to being open and to show them that we are working on the problem and we will be doing our best to fix it.

MR. SERRA: Let me just add one thing. When it comes to the year 2000, it certainly is a program whereby in my own opinion there is an amazing amount of misinformation. The misinformation is everywhere. As an example, the Intelsat program -- about a month ago I received -- deluged kind of with panic calls and panic emails, saying that we were told that the satellites will not be compliant, that they will not operate, that possibly we could fix them by October of 1999, and people were coming out of the woodworks. Well, it turns out that this was stated by one person in a conference in South America, in Brazil, and it was totally misinformation and incorrect. So this brings up a couple of things.

Number one, when you hear these apocalyptic forecasts of the Y2K, consider the source -- really consider who the source is, and go to an alternative source, a source that would really be more of an expert in that area. In the Intelsat example, when people came to Intelsat and then found out that we are already compliant in terms of our critical systems, of course they feel much better. But the damage has already been done, because this misinformation is out there. So consider the source, and hopefully the government and media can also address the fact that there is a lot of misinformation out there.


Q: ... Can you give us examples of a contingency plan that you have in place? And also, do those contingency plans have a hierarchy in terms of emergency international, national, local calls? Are they placed in a hierarchy?

MS. MACBRIDE: The government works with industry. The industry has contingency plans, most -- some of which are available in public, some of which are not, for the obvious reasons that we don't want to necessarily tell everyone how they're going to fix problems, since we don't anticipate there won't be some people enjoying this little time of concern.

I think that most of what we anticipate in this country is small scattered outages throughout areas in which people did not get done or people did not foresee certain types of problems, because of the level of confidence that we have now with the general infrastructure being ready. And so what we are preparing for basically is -- and it's a little different -- I mean, normally in this country we have a hurricane or tornadoes, and we have a lot of resources that all go at one time to one place, and we will have to be prepared for a series of different types of problems all around the country, and certainly that's part of our contingency planning on the government side.

Telecommunications wise, these guys are experts at this. They do have hurricanes pretty regularly, they have ice storms. They have these types of natural disasters. Now, this is in some ways easier than a natural disaster, because it's very time consuming to go out and pick up phone lines and restring them, and put up new telephone poles or whatever you're doing. We will have just about every expert eyeball watching computers roll over as we start around the world the day before new year's and going through new year's. And I do believe if there are problems associated with that that the communications systems in these companies will allow experts to consult with experts and vendors to consult with the companies. And we -- you know, in some ways the international scene happens to the United States before the national one. And we have an around-the-world set-up as well to try to communicate as much as we possibly can. We are doing it mostly so Australia doesn't get a million phone calls and crash its system, as everyone is wondering how they're doing as they go through the new year. So we are working to do that.

Priorities I think will really depend upon what national security issues there may be involved, the impact on life and those types of issues. And certainly that's part of the process that we'll be doing over that turn.


Caracas. ...

Q: ... What contingency measures have you considered to deal with air and navigation problems? There's from 21 to 23 August there is going to be a change of satellite platforms to deal with the new millennium problem I understand.

MS. SICCARDI: Mr. Serra?

MR. SERRA: Yes, I think what you are talking about is the GPS, the Geographic Positioning Systems -- will turn over between August 21 and 22. What that is is really GPS was developed by the military, and it's used all over the world now both for positioning and for time synchronization. Unfortunately when they built the system it was done on a weekly counter, and after 1,024 weeks it will flip back to zero, and it will make everybody think that it is the year 1982, I think -- I believe at this time.

First of all, the military has already fixed the system, and the system should be fine for the transition. But the issue really is in the GPS receivers that exist all over the world. They have DPROM (ph) or embedded chips in them, and there are many of these GPS receivers that will not function properly.

Intelsat has had a very heightened state of alert for that. We have replaced all of our GPS receivers, and we also will treat the 21st of August as a test exercise for our contingency planning. We will have our command group in place, and we will use that as a dry run really for the transition at the end of the year.


(end transcript)

-- Diane J. Squire (, May 14, 1999.


Thanks for the informative post...........

-- kevin (, May 14, 1999.

You don't hear about the GPS situation as it applies to ground based systems which are used in the banking, power, manufacturing processes. Hope they got them fixed.

Thanks Diane

-- Brian (, May 14, 1999.

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