Y2K problems start small

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Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 19:07 GMT

Y2K problems start small

The first genuine millennium bug problems have begun to occur, but all have been inconvenient rather than disastrous.

A common problem around the world are documents which contain dates that are wrong by a century. In South Korea, a district court issued summonses to 170 people asking them to attend court on the 4 January 1900.

And Italy's biggest telephone company, Telecom Italia, sent out bills for the first two months of 1900.

In the UK on Wednesday, shoppers found themselves unable to pay for goods using their credit cards, as a checking system failed to recognise dates in the new century.

The millennium, or Y2K, bug results from older computers using only two digits to represent the year - 1999 becomes 99. Problems arise when the year 2000 is recorded as 00, which some machines will interpret as being 1900.

Problems of preparedness

In some parts of the world, the preparations for Y2K problems have caused more trouble than the bug itself.

In Nigeria, private telephone companies have had to scramble to restore service to some 20,000 subscribers after the state company, Nitel, disconnected them.

The Nigerian government ruled on Wednesday that Nitel could cut off private operators that it did not feel were proven to be fully Y2K compliant, but the operators insist they are ready for the millennium bug.

Also in Nigeria, banks have expressed severe concern after huge cash withdrawals by people anxious that Y2K problems could affect their accounts.

"The withdrawals in the last few days are unprecedented. Our worry now is that it does not constitute a threat to our survival," said banker Sunday Odutola. "Over 90 percent of the banks are Y2K compliant. So I don't understand why people are unnecessarily apprehensive," he said.

Concerns that similar rushes for cash might take place in the UK and Hong Kong led to more bank notes being printed. However, demand for cash has not been extreme so far.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), December 30, 1999

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