WorldCom Hit by Net Problem at MAE West

SAN FRANCISCO (07/13/2000) - This hasn't been WorldCom Inc.'s week. Along with the official termination of the company's planned merger with Sprint Corp. announced Thursday, all has not been well with one of the U.S. telecom and Internet services provider's facilities which acts as a major network access point on the Internet.

WorldCom runs both MAE (metropolitan area exchange) East and MAE West, two key exchange points on the Net where Internet service providers (ISPs) hook up to swap traffic.

A system failure at WorldCom's MAE West facility in San Jose, California, this week led to a noticeable slowing down of Internet traffic. The company was alerted to the problem Tuesday by both its own maintenance engineers and around 10 customer reports, according to a WorldCom spokeswoman.

"WorldCom engineers saw some congestion on the network and begun to troubleshoot the switches to determine where the problem was," she said.

The problem occurred in MAE West's FDDI (fiber distributed data interface) network which handles less than one-third of the facility's customers, she added. The engineers determined the problem was in one of the network's six gigaswitches and then went about finding out where the bad cards in the switches were, she said.

The company informed its customers Wednesday of a planned four-hour maintenance period lasting from midnight until 4 a.m. Pacific time Thursday, choosing a time when the network would be carrying the least amount of traffic. The engineers replaced faulty cards from one of its gigaswitches with new ones and normal capacity for customer traffic on the network resumed between 4 and 5 a.m. Pacific time Thursday, the WorldCom spokeswoman said.

When MAE West was first established in 1993, its main technology was the older LAN (local area network) FDDI technology. In 1998, the company moved the facility to the newer ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) technology, but some of its customers remain on FDDI, the WorldCom spokeswoman said.

WorldCom, based in Jackson, Mississippi, can be reached at +1-601-360-8600 or via the Internet at http://www.wcom.com/.

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