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Bug Repellent

Prepare your phone system for Y2K.

Much has been written about how the millennium bug may stop older computers from operating at the turn of the century. Billions of dollars are being invested to combat the problem. But even if you've already fixed your computers, your telecommunications equipment may still fall prey to the Y2K problem.

According to Leon Kappelman, a member of the International Y2K Cooperation Center's steering committee, long-distance and interoffice phone systems alike need to be evaluated for Y2K compliance since phone networks are powered by software programs similar to those used by computers. Kappelman recommends having your office phone system checked by a service representative or a computer consultant to make sure there are no Y2K-related problems. Also ask your long-distance carrier what it's done to alleviate the Y2K problem, especially if it's a smaller provider. A recent survey by the U.S. State Department showed that as of March 1998, of 113 international long-distance phone carriers, less than half had resolved their Y2K problems. That kind of unpreparedness could lead to a phone failure, which might seriously affect your business. Don't wait until January 1 to find out if you have a problem.

Gene Koprowski has covered the tech industry for 10 years and writes a monthly computing column for The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition. Contact him at

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This article was originally published in the May 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Bug Repellent.

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