Telcos can only ensure their networks are Year 2000 compliant if users take responsibility for testing their own PBX equipment.
According to Michael Brahm, director of continuity systems at US telco Bell Atlantic, responsibility should fall partly to end users.
Speaking at a global Y2K online debate today, he said: "The phones may work [because of the work by telcos], but their internal phone systems may fail [if they are not tested]. Companies should test their PBXs to understand whether they need to terminate them, or develop contingency plans."
He also revealed that no US telco is completely Y2K ready. He said Bell Atlantic aims to complete testing by the end of the year and be compliant by mid 1999.
The picture looks similar in the UK, though most UK telcos are aiming to be compliant by the end of this year.
This country's operators are fighting the bug collectively under the auspices of the Telecoms Operators' Forum. Established around 18 months ago, it counts BT, Vodafone and Energis among its members. One of its successes has been to ensure all telcos are being given the same messages by the industry's telecomms equipment suppliers.
"Some suppliers have been more forthcoming than others," admitted Tony Nightingill, millennium programme manager at Energis, and a Forum member. The Forum's collective force has ensured suppliers are more honest and treat all telcos with equal respect, regardless of their cheque book size, noted Nightingill.
"All operators are working to be compliant by the end of the year. There are some slippages, but we are trying to focus on areas we feel there are more risks," he said.
He believes telcos have now agreed that their Y2K programme schedules, and are either upgrading, and are planning to or are now testing systems.
Telcos will be working on testing interconnection issues, he continued.
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