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MCI Outage Affects ATMs, Futures Trading

TECHNOLOGY

August 11, 1999|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — A glitch in MCI WorldCom Inc.'s data-transmission network has partially disabled thousands of automated teller machines and restricted market trading of corn, soybeans and other financial futures.

The problem at the No. 2 U.S. long-distance carrier began late last week during a system upgrade and has disrupted high-speed data service for nearly 30% of MCI's global data-network customers, spokeswoman Linda Laughlin said Tuesday.

"Our technicians are still investigating what caused the problem and are working to identify all the service interruptions," said Laughlin, who did not know when the Jackson, Miss.-based company's service would return to normal.

MCI was upgrading network software from Lucent Technologies Inc. when the system began experiencing problems in large cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

As a result, ATMs nationwide--and in some cases outside the United States--have had intermittent trouble dispensing money because the bank machines couldn't communicate with each other, making it impossible to determine the customer's balance.

Chicago Board of Trade President Thomas Donovan issued a stinging rebuke of MCI after the disruption shut down electronic trading terminals around the globe.

Days before the outage, Donovan said he had met with MCI executives to complain about the quality of service and said he'd been promised things would improve.

"Despite these assurances, we began experiencing a catastrophic outage because of MCI WorldCom just two days later," Donovan said in a letter sent Tuesday to members of the world's largest futures exchange.

The exchange said trading would be restored by late Tuesday and that it would add more terminals Wednesday if the disruptions continued.

MCI shares fell $2.38 to close at $75.06 on Nasdaq.

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