The Phone System Of Tomorrow Is Causing Migraines Today

On June 26, more than 5 million customers in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia lost most of their local phone service for seven hours. The problem: A computer network that sets up calls went haywire, possibly because of a bug in its software. The same type of network was implicated in a major outage in Los Angeles on the same day. And in smaller outages in Pittsburgh and San Francisco a few days later. And in a memorable snafu in January, 1990, that crippled American Telephone & Telegraph Co.'s long-distance network for nine hours.

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