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Y2K test KOs phone service New system leaves Bell's PrimeLine customers hanging Natalie Armstrong The Ottawa Citizen

TORONTO -- A Y2K glitch yesterday caused yet another Bell Canada system to crash, leaving thousands of Ontario businesses and residences without phone service.

Denis Lalonde, assistant vice-president of the Year 2000 Program at Bell Canada, said yesterday's disrupted service to more than 9,000 PrimeLine customers across Ontario was "a very isolated incident" for the program.

Mr. Lalonde said 7,500 Toronto PrimeLine customers were being transferred to a new Y2K-ready system. It operated for only three hours before crashing at about 10 a.m. local time. The problem lasted two hours.

About 1,200 PrimeLine customers in Ottawa-Hull, Hamilton, London and Kitchener who were already on the Y2K-ready system for several weeks, were also affected.

PrimeLine is a service that provides customers with one phone number so their calls can be forwarded to follow wherever they go, such as home, office or cellular lines. The service is also available in Montreal and Quebec City, but those subscribers weren't affected.

There are about 17,000 PrimeLine customers in total, many of whom are small-business operators.

It was the third time in a week that Bell experienced a system failure, with the collapse of a Toronto-area 911 emergency network on the weekend and a fire last Friday that affected service nationwide.

Ted Mallett, director of research for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said such telecommunication crashes can be detrimental for small businesses, which rely on telephones, fax lines and Internet for competitiveness.

"Small businesses these days are more dependent than ever on phone lines, and any interruption of service can range from mildly annoying to catastrophic, depending on the time of day and the kind of problem it is," said Mr. Mallett, adding many small businesses have about four lines, for phone, fax and Internet. His organization represents 90,000 small- and medium-sized business owners across Canada.

But Bell says it expects no further Y2K problems.

"To date we have been successful in upgrading 99.9 per cent of our network with no impact on customers," said Mr. Lalonde, adding that represents 325 central offices. He said Bell expects to be Y2K-ready by early fall.

On Friday, an electrical fire at a Bell Canada switching station in Toronto cut phone lines to customers in the city and all electronic communications that feed through the station. A large part of Toronto was left without telephone service, bank services were affected across Canada and Internet providers reported major disruptions.

-- boop (leafyspurge@hotmail.com), January 31, 2000



Were you aware that this article was from July of 1999?


-- Steve (sron123@aol.com), January 31, 2000.

sorry, no i somehow missed that. thanks for catching it.

-- boop (leafyspurge@hotmail.com), January 31, 2000.

now i am really confused. after your post i noticed the date in the url and agreed that you are right. then on second thought i reaccessed the site and the article date shows as 1-31-2000. i did think it was curious that the article said they would be compliant by fall. do you think the paper may have run an old story? i would like to get to the bottom of this.

-- boop (leafyspurge@hotmail.com), January 31, 2000.

The 1-31-2000 date you saw is the current date. No matter what article you read on that site, that date will always read the same. Try it and see.

The URL for the article was http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/990723/2640543.html. The "990723" refers to the date of the article, in this case July 23, 1999.

-- (hope@that.helps), January 31, 2000.

Yup, it *is* an old article. I have it archived on my site. The article date is July 23/99 and I posted it on July 26/99. Here is the link to the article on my site:

http://www .albertaweb.com/year2000/docs/doc2912.html

-- Steve Baxter (chicoqh@home.com), January 31, 2000.

Well, at least back then they were honest and admitted it was a Y2K problem. What would they call it now? Can't remember what that 20something letter acronym is.

-- Kyle (fordtbonly@aol.com), January 31, 2000.

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