Hello?... Hello?... Anybody talking from the phone companies?

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At Y2K community forums in SW Pennsylvania, Bell Atlantic declines to send a representative. Is that true of phone companies elsewhere?

And, what is the telecommunications industry saying about their readiness? Maybe Linkmeister has a meistered link I've missed? ;-)

-- Lane Core Jr. (elcore@sgi.net), September 20, 1999


For the last 6 months, the Aliant phone company in Lincoln NE has been publicly guaranteeing that if you have service from them, you will have a dial tone, whether or not there is electricity. Of course, two years ago, we had an early heavy snow that caught the trees with their leaves on, and took down a lot of power lines, and Aliant found out how poorly prepared they were for an emergency, so they shaped up.

-- walt (walt@lcs.k12.ne.us), September 20, 1999.


We had USWEST attend the community meeting in Cedar Rapids Ia. They indicated everything was going to be fine as long as everybody didn't pick up the phone at midnight and made a call. They also confirmed that their tests with the utility companies are done in a lab and not live.

-- y2k dave (xsdaa111@hotmail.com), September 20, 1999.

Hi Lane,

Have you posted a report of last week's forum in Roscoe?

Ironically, my phone went out over the weekend, but I think it's due to bad wiring in the house. Of course, I can't get through to a human being to confirm the arrival of a repair crew today because of all of the storm damage from Floyd.

They may have been a no-show because they're busy.

I also noticed that our monthly home phone bill now only reports long distance services every other month. I'm sure that this saves billing costs, but it's less convenient for us.

Are they ready? We'll see.

-- nothere nothere (notherethere@hotmail.com), September 20, 1999.

Thanks for asking. I thought it went rather well. About 75 attended. I discovered that many in the audience did not believe the assurances from the federal government representatives (SSA and local congressman's office) even before I showed them why they should not believe their assurances.

I understand that the woman from SSA now hates me. She gave the standard line, of course, that they were done in December. (Which is what she has been told.) Later, I quoted from the July GAO report that showed how much work was yet to be done on critical systems: not done this July, ergo not done last December, no matter that the president himself had said so. (Gee, wasn't Cory saying back in June that SSA programmers were telling him that they weren't nearly done yet. "Being bled to death" to get done is the phrase I recall.)

A local mayor was there, and he was quite vehement about SSA and came flat out and said there weren't going to be any SSA checks come January 3. I found out afterwards that one of his relatives works @ SSA in DC.

Most of the questions were about electricity. Allegheny Power had sent the business manager from the local office, and I thought he acquitted himself well. I told them, FWIW, that I thought power problems were unlikely.

(If there's anything I forgot to mention... some important factoid that I didn't draw somebody's attention to... an angle that I didn't bring to light... well, too bad. I only had two 10 minute slots.)

-- Lane Core Jr. (elcore@sgi.net), September 20, 1999.

y2k Dave,

I find that USWEST remark about "as long as everyone doesn't pick up the phone on New Years Eve" too damn funny. I don't know about the rest of you, but every New Years Eve I either call someone or someone calls me, to say HAPPY FRICKIN NEW YEAR. What a cop out.

BTW, I get USWEST's service also. I won't have access to a phone this new year, no service out in the boonies where i'll be.

-- CygnusXI (noburnt@toast.net), September 20, 1999.

Two questions come to mind immediately, Mr. Core.

1. Who sponsored the "Y2K community forums" you are speaking of here? If they were not sponsored by a govt. of some sort then I'm not surprised that Bell Atlantic didn't show up. I know for a fact that Bell Atlantic was at meetings in Montgomery County, MD and Washington, DC in the past year.

2. You are writing Y2K columns for Westergaard and passing yourself off as some sort of "expert" yet you don't know what the telecommunications industry is saying about their readiness. What's up with that?

Don't bother answering these questions to me directly. I may not get back here to read them. But there must be others who would like to hear these answers.

-- Buddy (buddydc@go.com), September 20, 1999.

1. Local borough.

2. Unlike you and Flint, I don't know everything.

3. Too bad.

-- Lane Core Jr. (elcore@sgi.net), September 20, 1999.


BellSouth has been very cooperative in participating in Y2k forums and workshops here locally. Our utility, in cooperation with local government, colleges, telecommunications and banking have co- sponsored several workshops that have been well received. We have another scheduled for the 28th of September and I believe BellSouth is to attend that one as well.

-- JT (jetis50@aol.com), September 20, 1999.


I went to three Y2K Community Community Conversations in my area last week. At the third one on Thursday, the representitive from Bell South said that they had been working on Y2K since 1995 and that Bell South plans to spend $350-500 million on Y2K work.

Later, during questions and answers, the Bell South rep--when asked how much of the Y2K work had been done so far--answered that 99% of it had been done. Maybe there is a logical explanation, but I didn't feel confident about my phone service in January when I heard that an organization that had done 99% of its Y2K work gave such a broad estimate ($350-500 million) of how much they intend to spend on Y2K.

-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), September 20, 1999.

Hmmm. Thanks for the feedback about other phone companies.

I understand that both Bell Atlantic (locally) and Columbia Gas here decline to participate in the forums because they are asked too often. Seeing as how there are so few, and that other organizations are happy to participate, some of us here wonder what the real reason is.

-- Lane Core Jr. (elcore@sgi.net), September 20, 1999.

Buddy, We know who Lane is, but who are you?

-- Mara Wayne (MaraWayne@aol.com), September 20, 1999.

I prefer to remain anonymous as do the majority of posters on TB2000. If you want a clue, go to the archives and look for the original "What about you?" thread.

Suffice it to say I am known as a polly around here by the old regulars, although "polly" is a label given to me, not chosen.

The email address is real, although I check it infrequently.

-- Buddy (buddydc@go.com), September 20, 1999.

* * * 19990920 Monday


I attend roughly 95% of the any/all Y2K-events publicized in southeast Michigan.

I've also read all of the Web-posted Michigan State Police Emergency Division - Y2K Project documents from "Round-Tables" they've conducted since 1998. Utilities seem to (reluctantly) participate in these discussions. All telecomm attendees spout the same garbage about their Y2K lab testing on the east coast.

The telecomm Y2K test assumption is that the ~500 unique configured in their lab passed all tests consucted. They consider themselves-- collectively--Y2K "ready." There is no equivocation in telecomm statements re the impossibility of testing any live production "network" in real-time. Just can't be done.

Telecomms have also admitted that to do complete Y2K testing would require some 60,000 man-years of effort. Never happen!

There is a real life anecdotal-analogy that demonstrates an Achilles' heel of the telecomm Y2K evaluation and approach. The pivotal false premise is assuming that each and every network configuration is represented and behaves as "scripted" in the test environment.

The anecdotal corollary case is the experience in August 1998 by the Arizona farmers and their big Y2K lesson learned re computerized ( circuit boards ) in crop irrigation systems. A consulting firm replaced all boards in August 1998. After 3 days of going "live," one third ( 1/3d ) irreparably failed. It turns out that the failed units were produced by the same vendor that--unbeknownst to the purchasers--changed ( only slightly ) the specifications. It took 3 months for the situation to be remedied. All parts, regardless of vendor/manufacturer, looked the same and had all the same nomenclature. ( Splitting unusually large "special" orders between vendors is common practice for many reasons. )

( The president of the Arizona Farm Bureau gave testimony about the aforementioned incident before Senator Bennett's Y2K committee in April 1999. I have not been able to locate the transcript. * * DIANE?!?! * * )

The telecomm industry is not even on thin ice with their Y2K "ready" assertions based on their alleged Y2K test procedures.

I realted this information ( in person ) to Mark Wesley, Director of Michigan State Police Emergency Management Division - Y2K Project before/after our joint appearance on WTVS-TV (PBS, Detroit) in May! He was visiblt not happy to hear this Y2K tale and potential folly of live test consequences to the telecomm industry.

The telecomm's don't want to be subjected to public challenge and embarrassment re their bogus Y2K methodologies.

Who could blame them?

Regards, Bob Mangus

* * *

-- Robert Mangus (rmangus1@yahoo.com), September 20, 1999.

Thank you Robert. Good report.

At best, all even a 100% successful computer test means is that:

"The system we tested, in the way we tested it givenr the same test inputs as we sent it, operating under the exact configuration and in the same conditions as we tested it, will generate the same results as we expected if it is operated for exactly the same time as we tested it with the same conditions as we tested it under."

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), September 20, 1999.

Bob Mangus,

Either this...

The Food Supply Problem
"Will the cupboards be bare?"
February 5, 1999 - Washington, D.C.

Ken Evans -- President, Arizona Farm Bureau Federation

http:/ /www.senate.gov/~y2k/hearings/990205/kevans.htm

Or... go to info.gov and search...

http://www.info.gov/ cgi-bin/search_gov

...on keywords Arizona Farm Bureau testimony Year 2000 1999 (or a variation on that theme)...

Set button at All of the words entered

Toggle and get documents to 50

And set from database: to All Federal Government

Then figure the hits out.


(So Buddy... remember what e-mail name you posted under back then?)

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), September 20, 1999.

Thanks, Robert. And Robert. :-)

I recall that statement about having to fit 60,000 years of testing into 400-odd days (http://users.sgi.net /~elcore/csy2k008.htm). In case anybody wonders (and cares), it was statements like "we'll have to do 60,000 years of testing in 443 days" -- accepted with aplomb by everybody in the press -- that got me to writing about Y2K.

The Pennsylvania PUC publishes a list every Monday of the status of their investigation into utilities' readiness. Some of them are classified as "Referred to Law Bureau", meaning that the PUC can't get enough information from them, etc. A very large percentage of those so classified (as of today) are in the telecommunications industry (report [PDF] available at http://puc .paonline.com/commissioners/year_2000.htm).

-- Lane Core Jr. (elcore@sgi.net), September 20, 1999.

Cygnus XI, dial tone is the telephonic equivalent of fractional reserve banking. If EVERYONE picks up the phone at the roughly the same itme, only a certain percentage will get dial tone. The switches are configured that way for cost-effectiveness. So if you and, say, 50% of the folks in your area pick up the phone at 0001 1 Jan 2000 and don't hear dial tone, DO NOT panic. Wait until you see rampaging mobs smashing down the street, THEN panic.

-- Mr. Mike (mikeabn@aol.com), September 20, 1999.

Lane, I do not work for "the telephone company" now, but I have a lot of years experience in that industry. What concerns me is this:

1. Deregulation has created a lot of churn. Both in companies acquiring one another and in the downsizing of professionally mature employees who could figure out work arounds.

2. There are a lot of small telephone companies in the U.S. Not just the big RBOCs and carriers. This is similar to the rural electric providers and the number of water utilities.

3. There is no way to do an end to end test of the network.

Based on what I know about voice and data communications and what I have heard, there will probably be local dial tone and U.S. long distance for the most part unless there are prolonged electrical outages or severe fuel shortages. Dialtone into or out of the U.S. except for a few countries will be interesting.

BTW I read your posts on this forum and Westergaard. Thanks for all your work.

-- Nancy (wellsnl@hotmail.com), September 20, 1999.

Buddy, from reading innumerable posts of his, I can attest that Lane Core is pretty well informed on Y2K and current events. You? I'm not so convinced.


-- MinnesotaSmith (y2ksafeminnesota@hotmail.com), September 20, 1999.

Thanks, Nancy and Minnesota.

I understand that an end-to-end test of the telecommunications network under live conditions is impossible. Likewise, I believe, for the power "grid". And, probably, for most inter-company, international systems. This does not mean that we should conclude they're going to fail at The Rollover, nor does laboratory and/or modular testing (a programmer's term but it's getting late and I can't think of a more appropriate term right now) guarantee that the integrated systems will work. Robert Cook put it very well above.

What gets my goat is the utter presumption of the PR machines in implying that the system has been tested when only parts of it have been tested, or (even less dependable) when parts of it has been tested in a simulated environment, or (worst of all) when personnel have conducted a drill, not a test. By the way, I mean no disrespect to engineers and programmers, etc., who do all that they can do; they aren't responsible for the exaggerated claims of the spokesmen.

Thank you both for your kind words.

-- Lane Core Jr. (elcore@sgi.net), September 20, 1999.

Lane, Telcos are no different than any publicly held company with a lot at stake. How many have been candid about their level of preparedness? The 10Q wording, brochureware and web sites are thoroughly scrubbed by lawyers and spin doctors.

It is my firm belief that a lot of good folks who have no control over the process or their bosses who are clueless are putting on a happy face and hoping to hell that what they have claimed will approach reality.

Even though telephony traffic is not designed to support instant dial tone if every user picks up their telephone at the same time, a lot of thought has gone into the design and hardiness of the network. That hardiness has been a sacred cow. Unlike the power grid, lack of dial tone or brown outs in one area will not automatically impact the others--it all depends what telcos and carriers are involved and the call routing.

It is easier for me to have faith in the network because I have spent a lot of years engineering and peddling voice and data communications. Now I write truth and beauty about the industry.

Y2K issues may be more noticeable in routing calls (time of day/day of week routing), billing, and the like. Or, you may have repeats of the issues that MCI had with the frame relay network and coordination with Lucent to get it fixed--communications between vendors,troubleshooting the problems, and tired people spread too thin with too many things to fix. As long as their batteries hold up for supplemental power, we may get lucky.

On a personal note my cell phone is a different LEC (local exchange carrier) than my home/office numbers. That was deliberate

-- Nancy (wellsnl@hotmail.com), September 20, 1999.

* * * 19990921 Tuesday

Thanks, Diane: The search result links are "broken."

However, Metacrawler found a link to TimeBomb 2000 - "Notes on today's food supply hearing" < http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and- a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=000T5E >.

I'll never forget Ken Evans' testimony. I was able to watch the live hearing that day on C-SPAN! IMHO, Mr. Evans has probably been the most candid, forthright, and down-to-earth witness EVER to participate in any government Y2K activity. ( No disrespect to Ed's! )

His was thoughts and experience were powerful ( "Farm-to-Fork" ) Y2K stuff! He had me laughing ( at his mannerisms! ) and crying ( at his humbling Y2K farm(!) experience ) at the same time!


The "60,000 years" got your journalistic Y2K attention, eh?! It is a psychological wonder ( of denial ) why it didn't light intellectual and critical thinking fires in all the other in the "Table Top"--"Big Top?!"-- world of journalism?!! "Table Top" exercises just don't count for squat in the real world Y2K Scenario!! Do they? (*SIGH*)

Regards, Bob Mangus

* * *

-- Robert Mangus (rmangus1@yahoo.com), September 21, 1999.

A different view is linked below. Prepare the tinfoil cannons...:) Telecommunications Y2K Status


-- FactFinder (FactFinder@bzn.com), September 21, 1999.

Diane, yes I do remember, the email address is still good, and it wasn't "Doomslayer" either.

Minnesota Smith, how you can come to the conclusion that Lane Core is well-informed given his question that started this thread is beyond me. For Core to even ask, "And, what is the telecommunications industry saying about their readiness?" shows how ill-informed he is. Also, your website contains so much misinformation that it would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

-- Buddy (buddydc@go.com), September 21, 1999.

Hey, "Buddy".


I guess you do know everything, right?

But, no. If you knew the answer to my question, you would have answered it. But what did you do? You attacked me. Why? Because that approach is the first resort, and the last refuge, of the brainless and the spineless.

I'll say it again, to all the Pollyannas, you, the gutter-sniping "Patricia", the lying smearmonger Poole, the sneering so-called FactFinder: if you have any complaints about what I write, then you examine what I write, point out my factual errors, show how my assumptions are unlikely or where my reasoning is faulty.

So far, none of you have done that. Nobody.

When you resort to attacking me and calling me names, you merely show that your position has no foundation in evidence or thought.

-- Lane Core Jr. (elcore@sgi.net), September 22, 1999.


I did not answer your question because the status of the telcos is not difficult to find. That was my point.

Your assumptions and reasoning have been debunked numerous times by others who are much more eloquent than I am. You just seem to be regurgitating others' FUD.

Also, I don't see anywhere where I have called you a name such as you have just done.

Anyway, don't worry, I'll go away and leave you alone now.

-- Buddy (buddydc@go.com), September 22, 1999.

While doing a newswire search on Y2K earlier today, I came across the following short item. BellSouth didn't notice my concerns earlier in this thread, did they?

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/local/state/indiana/story.html?s= v/rs/19990923/in/index_2.html#9

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------
BellSouth Ready For Y2K - (SYTATEWIDE) -- It should be smooth sailing for area BellSouth customers when Kentuckiana moves into the new millennium. Officials at the telephone company say the phone network and supporting computer systems are Y-two-K ready. They are worried about system overload come midnight January first, because many people are expected to dial their phones to make sure they're working. Just in case, the Atlanta-based company says contingency plans are on file.
---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), September 24, 1999.

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