FL: Software Failure Halts Long Distance Calling

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Software Failure Halts Long Distance Calling July 02, 2001 If you tried to place a long distance phone call Saturday morning, or even use a credit card or an ATM machine, and were unsuccessful, you were not alone. Long distance service throughout Verizon's six-county central Florida service area went out at 1:11 a. m. Saturday and wasn't restored until 11:30 a. m.

The outage interrupted not only regular telephone service, but also charge card and debit card confirmation lines and automatic teller machines. If you didn't have either cash or a checkbook plus lots of identification and an honest face, your shopping options were limited.

Bob Elek, spokesman for Verizon (formerly GTE), said the problem finally was traced to a software failure in the company's Tampa main switching center in downtown Tampa.

"It was a piece of software involved in the processing of long distance calls into and out of our service territory, something that has worked literally millions of times," he said.

The cause of the malfunction still has not been determined, he said. Verizon is still trying to figure it out.

While no calls could go into or out of the six counties, there was limited long distance service within the territory, Elek said.

"Our first inclination was to think that there was something wrong with the network," he said. Most of the 10 hours and 19 minutes that the system was down was spent figuring out where the problem was.

He could not estimate the number of long distance calls didn't go through during the outage, "but it's fair to say that the impact was widespread."

Most cellular phone customers were able to make long distance calls, he said.

Local calling was not affected except when some part of the network was overloaded with customers calling the phone company to find out what was wrong, Elek said.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 04, 2001

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