Telecommunications and healthcare could be the two industries hit the hardest by the so-called Millennium Bug, according to Don Cruickshank, chief of the UK’s Year 2000 awareness organization Action 2000. And the bug is likely to reduce the world’s telecoms networks and the internet to a state where International phone calls cannot be guaranteed, with a possible global shutdown, according to Robin Guenier, who heads the competing awareness body Taskforce 2000. He estimates the global spending for fixing bug-afflicted systems and the court cases that arise is around $3 trillion. The focus of the perceived problem, says Guenier, has moved from elderly mainframe systems running Cobol to systems that use deeply embedded logic at the core, such as hospital equipment and telecoms switches. British Telecommunications Plc says it’s spending around 200m pounds to address the problem, but Guenier points out that this will have no effect on world telecommunications, unless other governments do the same. BT plans to have the UK network fixed by late 1998, to give its customers time to test their network equipment, such as Private Branch Exchanges, and other afflicted equipment such as switchboards. BT is currently pressurizing its 44 global partners to sort their systems out as well, according to chief executive officer Sir Peter Bonfield, speaking at the UK’s Telecommunications Managers Associations conference in Brighton earlier this week.
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