The Task Force set up by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to co-ordinate activities dealing with the Millennium Bug has adopted a number of measures designed to raise awareness among telecommunication operators and carriers of the problem. The Task Force will also provide advice and information on how best to overcome potential difficulties associated with the switch to the new millennium. A tight programme of action has been initiated to complete and test the changes by the end of 1998 and provide sufficient time to undertake the necessary adjustments before the end of 1999. Clearly, not every country will be able to follow such a tight time-scale, but many large organisations have already set a target of achieving compliance by the end of this year.

"Clearly, this global problem requires a global approach based on local implementation" said Tomas Nylund of Telia, Vice-Chairman of the Task Force. "Not dealing with the Year 2000 issue in one country could be as dangerous to that country's partners as computer viruses. Every telecommunication operator must ensure that its company is Year 2000 compliant and, to this end, must conduct an accurate assessment of what needs to be done, a thorough analysis on how to proceed, a conversion phase whenever warranted and must allow a testing period to validate the action taken."

Sub-groups of the ITU Year 2000 Task Force are being set up to work on specific issues. The first, the Inter-Carrier testing Sub-Group, has already met once. Its purpose is to specifically address the feasibility of Inter-Carrier Year 2000 compliance testing and produce a definitive set of statements that will assist the ITU, its members and their customers in establishing what is practicable and recommended when seeking end-to-end assurances for Year 2000 compliance.

The sub-group role and responsibilities include:

- Promoting Year 2000 compliance standards (BSI, ISO definitions etc.) amongst ITU members to create greater global consistency and a common understanding.

- Devising Inter-Carrier test scenarios that can be used to construct an end-to-end inter-operability view of Year 2000 compliance testing.

- Issuing guidelines for ITU members on dealing with Inter-Carrier testing.

- Publishing the results of its work and best practice information to complement the Year 2000 self-assessment process launched through the analysis questionnaire.

- Involving switch suppliers and manufacturers with...

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