NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Telco Year 2000 Forum, a nationwide group of major telecommunications companies including GTE, announced today it has contracted with Bellcore, a leading supplier of telecommunications software, consulting and testing, to coordinate and supervise Year 2000 network interoperability testing of components in the nation's telecommunications infrastructure.
The Telco Year 2000 Forum was organized in 1996 to address Year 2000 issues potentially affecting the nation's telephone network.
These issues generally involve systems that identify years with only two digits instead of four, such as 98 for 1998. Unless reprogrammed or replaced, the inability of devices to distinguish 2000 from 1900 could cause unpredictable results.
The testing being supervised by Bellcore will help detect Year 2000 issues within the public telecommunications network.
The forum -- currently made up of Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, Cincinnati Bell, GTE, SBC, Southern New England Telephone (SNET), and U S WEST -- is chaired by Gene Chiappetta of SNET.
"Each member company was already working very hard to solve millennium issues on its own," said Chiappetta. "It quickly became apparent we could all save time and expense by pursuing a common testing approach."
Judy List, vice president of Bellcore's Year 2000 Solutions business said, "Since its inception, Bellcore has provided network interoperability testing services. Bellcore will work with the Forum to perform network interoperability testing which will include coordination and project management, test-plan development, test monitoring as well as documenting the test results."
Supplementing the individual efforts of the member companies, the Telco Year 2000 Forum has been working for the past year with major equipment suppliers, including the manufacturers of the computerized switching systems at the network's heart.
The Forum's testing effort covers a broad cross-section of services, from voice to high-speed data circuits, to complex 9-1-1 emergency services.
Having suppliers address individual components is only part of the solution. "Testing is widely regarded as a major element in the total Year 2000 effort," said Chiappetta. "Planning and completing large-scale Year 2000 network interoperability testing in the available time would be very difficult without joining together as we have."
Year 2000 testing and evaluation is taking place at two levels. The first level, which is being conducted by the individual member companies, involves examination of individual network components, often called network elements.
The second level, coordinated and supervised by Bellcore, involves interoperability issues in testing groupings of select network elements. Ultimately, the plan is to share test information to benefit the U.S. public telecommunications network.
"Bringing together the Telco Year 2000 Forum focuses our industry on resolving common issues and addressing customer concerns. We want our customers to know that we are committed to maintaining service integrity and network reliability as we enter the next millennium," said Chiappetta.
More information on the Telco Year 2000 Forum is available on the organization's Web site at http://www.telcoyear2000.org.
Bellcore, a SAIC company, is a leading provider of communications software, engineering, consulting and training services based on world-class research. Bellcore creates business solutions that make information technology work for telecommunications carriers, businesses and governments worldwide.