WASHINGTON -- Telephone call processing in the U.S. is expected to continue without major disruption in the new millennium according to the Telco Year 2000 Forum, a group representing the nation's largest local telephone companies including GTE. In its report released today, based upon six months of interoperability testing designed to identify and minimize potential Year 2000 complications, the Forum expressed continued confidence in the ability of the public to place telephone calls at the start of the new year.
"After six months of interoperability testing, we remain confident that dial tone will be available on January 1, 2000. The findings from our testing help us support the initial expectations of our members and principal suppliers -- that call voice and data call processing will continue without significant disruptions during the transition," said Gene Chiappetta, Chairman of the Telco Year 2000 Forum.
The Telco Year 2000 Forum was organized in 1996 to share information among local telephone carriers in preparation for the Year 2000. Representing an historic level of cooperation in the telecommunications industry, Telco Year 2000 Forum members agreed to join forces to address the challenge. "Sharing our members' collective resources has also allowed the Forum to be more thorough than any individual telephone company could have been in preparing for the Year 2000," added Chiappetta.
The Forum developed testing strategies for key elements that provide services in the local telecommunications network. The testing took place in 20 laboratory environments to simulate network activity and how it might be affected by the Year 2000.
The interoperability testing covered many of the types of equipment and software common to Forum members. It also included the ways in which the tested products interact. Shared resources allowed the testing of various configurations and combinations of those products, beyond the scope of the work that an individual telco could reasonably complete.
"Telcos are experienced in making substantial changes to the network, such as adding new services, without major disruption," explained Gerry Roth, Vice Chairman of the Forum, and vice president of GTE's Y2K Program Office. "Out of 1,914 test cases, only six resulted in Year 2000-related anomalies. Each of the six was resolved, re-tested and subsequently passed. Our main goal was to test the functionality of date/time sensitive operations to minimize the risk of network or service failures. We believe we have achieved the goal set out in the interoperability testing."
The Forum contracted with Bellcore, a well respected telecommunications company, to help the Forum test the interoperability of equipment used to support four clusters of services: emergency services; basic, enhanced, and intelligent services; management systems; and data/transport services. After a year of intensive planning, the Forum conducted testing at 20 telco owned and contracted laboratories between July 6, 1998 and December 22, 1998.
DMR Consulting Group, Inc., a top-ranked international provider of information technology services, managed the Interoperability Testing Initiative for the Forum.
The Forum's testing is one component of the effort needed for overall Year 2000 compliance in the telecommunications industry. Other individual companies and other industry groups are carrying out several levels of testing using a building block approach. This multi-layered strategy supports a cohesive and cooperative approach to testing activities and scope beyond the Forum's reach.
"We are sharing our results widely, including with other telephone companies, in order to be ready for the Year 2000," said Roth.
The Telco Year 2000 Forum LLC is currently made up of the largest local telephone companies including Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, Cincinnati Bell, GTE, SBC Communications, and US West. The Forum's final report and testing publications are available at www.telcoyear2000.org.
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