It is obvious why the telecommunications industry has a connection problem. To get one company compliant is a difficult job -- so difficult that it has never been accomplished. The corporate spokesmen keep issuing optimistic forecasts -- "Our firm will be compliant!" but then they say, "We're not sure about all those other guys."
But if they don't all get compliant, and then interconnected, the modern economy is at risk, even assuming the banks get compliant and interconnected -- a wildly optimistic assumption.
This is from the Bergen (N.J.) RECORD (Jan. 25).
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At AT&T in Basking Ridge, one of the nation's largest Year 2000 projects -- involving thousands of systems worldwide -- has been under way since October 1996, with more than a third of the company's computer code already repaired, said John Pasqua, who is heading the effort.
Pasqua said he fields two dozen calls a day from business customers worried that the new millennium will be greeted with a deafening silence, the sound of millions of telephones not ringing. But he said customers have little to fear. By the end of the year, he said, the AT&T system will be 90 percent clean, and by the end of next year it will be completely Year 2000 compliant.
"It's got our undivided attention," Pasqua said, adding that thousands of employees are working on the problem. "It's a major priority for us."
At Bell Atlantic, with 38 million phone lines from Maine to Virginia, Skip Patterson, executive director of the company's Year 2000 program, is engaged in a search for a "silver bullet" -- a fix-it program that will be fast, cheap, and reliable.
He is testing a program called Vertex 2000 -- developed by a computer pioneer who helped design the world's dominant mainframe programming language. The program is fast and cheap, but the jury is still out on its reliability.
With 500 systems, more than 100 million lines of code, and 15 mission-critical vendors, none of whom is fully Year 2000 compliant, the task confronting Patterson is daunting. But he said dial tones and data links will survive the millennial New Year's Eve party intact.
Still he worries that in the interconnected world that Bell Atlantic's customers call home, there's a weak link that could wreak havoc on lives and businesses despite his best efforts.
"Our customers have a lot to worry about," he said. "The thing about this whole Year 2000 problem is we can get it all right. But if everybody else doesn't get it all right, what's the point? We're only one link in the chain. . . . We all have to get it right."