Outage at British Telecom cuts off millions

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Outage at BT cuts off millions From... http://stream.ap.org/audioupdate.ram

February 29, 2000 Web posted at: 8:15 a.m. EST (1315 GMT)

by Polly Sprenger

(IDG) -- A fault on British Telecom's network prevented customers from dialing in to hundreds of free Internet service providers, potentially affecting millions of Internet users.

Nearly 2 million Britons hold accounts with free ISPs, which have blossomed in the last two years in response to prohibitively expensive Internet access.

The fault occurred mid-morning Friday, when two of the gateways serving 0800 and 0845 numbers v used by most of Britain's more than 200 free ISPs v crashed. As the network struggled to reroute calls and BT engineers struggled to repair the fault, lines became so congested that only a fraction of calls got through. Failure of this network is tantamount to a crash of the 800-number system in the U.S.

The crash further damages BT's already less-than-pristine standing with the Internet community. BT has come under fire from Internet businesses and the British government lately for charging consumers by the minute for time spent online. E-commerce advocates say this practice has prevented Internet business from taking off there the way it has in the U.S.

A BT spokeswoman said the company doesn't know the exact percentage of calls that have failed, and called the fault "a serious problem that we are working urgently to fix." The first attempt to fix the problem in mid-afternoon failed, as the same two gateways crashed immediately after being restored.

"If you can't get through, the intelligent network tries another route," said BT's spokeswoman, who declined to be named. "The calls were spilling over and causing congestion in other areas."

Although BT's main network was unaffected, the so-called "derived services" network that handles toll-free and ISP calls was sluggish and virtually impassable for most of the day.

Free ISPs use a numbering convention that starts all numbers 0845. This charges customers a local rate regardless of their physical location. Charging local rates for national calls is BT's compromise to promote Internet usage in a country that has only about 10 percent of its citizenry online, compared with 30 percent in the U.S. Last week, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown publicly called on BT to revise its charges for Internet usage, prompting the telco to issue a statement saying Brown should not become involved in telecom issues.

Netscape Online, the second-largest free ISP in Britain, says it hasn't received large numbers of complaints about the failure, although spokesman Matthew Peacock points out that its customer service line is a toll free 0800 number, serviced by the same network as 0845.

Freeserve, Britain's largest ISP, did not respond to requests for comment.

-- meg davis (meg9999@aol.com), March 01, 2000


[/Cynicism on]

BT's hard line response to Gordon Brown wiping #2 billion [or was it #2 million ???]off the price of BT shares .... They were not happy with his premature announcement from the treasury and demanded an offical statement from the stock exchange.

[/Cynicism off]

-- merville (merville@globalnet.co.uk), March 01, 2000.

Early details....

Posted 25/02/2000 1:03pm

~snip~ A spokesman for BT said that engineers still didn't know what had caused the problem. As of 15:20 GMT there was no timetable for the restoration of the service. ~snip~

A railway information hotline is believed to be one of the services hit. A bank call centre is also believed to be out of operation.

One Register reader talked of a "massive internal failure" although the scale of the problem is still not known. ~snip~

Source: by Tim Richardson, The Register, United Kingdom

Header: "BT network falls over"


-- Lee Maloney (leemaloney@hotmail.com), March 03, 2000.

The outage is being blamed on software failure. Excerpts of two additional articles written by Tim Richardson at The Register, United Kingdom.....

Posted 25/02/2000 4:39pm

BT struggles to cope with massive network failure

Today's network nightmare at BT has been described as the "the biggest technical problem BT has ever faced", according to one anonymous source within the telco.

Two gateways in Cambridge and Leeds crashed simultaneously earlier this morning severely impacting the performance of BT's network. BT's third gateway in Croydon is currently working at full tilt to cope with demand.

~snip~ A spokesman for BT said he couldn't be absolutely sure it was "the biggest technical problem" ever but conceded that it was a "pretty major network problem". He also said it was a "major incident". ~snip~



Posted 28/02/2000 11:37am

BT network crash caused by software

A software glitch has been blamed for the massive network failure that crippled much of BT's phone system on Friday. BT technicians are currently working with the software supplier to create a patch. A spokesman for BT would not name the company in question or go into specific detail about the problem, although it's hoped this information will be made public later in the week.

Although the service was stabilised early Saturday morning, it wasn't until Sunday evening that the root cause of the problem was identified. "We're 99 per cent sure that a software problem was responsible," said a BT spokesman.

He also quashed rumours that the failure was due to the network being overloaded because tens of thousands of people phoned a TV show to win a free holiday. "We did have a minor incident a couple of weeks ago when there was an unnotified phone-in on the Richard and Judy show, but that wasn't a problem," he said.

Friday's network problem hit major services including NHS Direct, the Samaritans and emergency services. .


-- Lee Maloney (leemaloney@hotmail.com), March 03, 2000.

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