AT&T takes down non-Y2K-compliant net

By David Rohde, Network World |  Government

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. -- AT&T is quietly taking an old circuit-switched network out of commission because its Y2K fix for the net won't be ready in time.

The carrier is closing the network originally operated by ACC Holdings, a long-distance carrier AT&T obtained through a series of acquisitions. ACC primarily served residential and small business customers, and AT&T concedes that it never fully integrated the ACC switches and back-office systems into its own. ACC was purchased by alternative local carrier Teleport before Teleport was bought by AT&T last year.

In a filing at the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T revealed that it has to migrate ACC's 1,350 small business customers and 6,000 residential customers to the main AT&T telephone network by Dec. 31 because "certain legacy systems" are not Y2K-compliant.

The noncompliant pieces of the network are not switches but rather "all the operating systems around the billing platform," says Barbara Mottola, an AT&T program manager in charge of the migration, who says upgrading the systems would be too costly.

Although AT&T owns ACC, the smaller network still maintained its own primary interexchange carrier (PIC) code rather than AT&T's. AT&T's lawyers feared that if the company simply moved ACC customers to the main AT&T network without gaining individual permission from each of them, AT&T would technically violate the FCC's new antislamming rules meant to prevent unauthorized PIC code changes by unscrupulous carriers.

So AT&T filed for an antislamming rule waiver to make the migration faster, and the FCC granted the waiver last month. AT&T is notifying the affected customers of the change anyway.

Analysts say the fact that AT&T revealed it was taking down a noncompliant system, coupled with the fact that it also says it has no similar situations, is to the company's credit.

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