Telecommunications:

Interruptions of Telephone Service

RCED-93-79FS: Published: Mar 5, 1993. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the frequency and causes of telephone services outages during 1990 and 1991 that affected 10,000 or more customers and lasted 15 or more minutes.

GAO found that: (1) during 1990 and 1991, there were 1,000 outages that affected over 69 million customers; (2) the major reasons for telephone services outages were hardware problems, software problems, cable cuts, telephone company errors, vendor errors, and natural occurrences; (3) local phone companies' hardware problems caused about 80 percent of the outages; (4) long-distance companies reported cable cuts as the main cause of their outages; (5) the average duration of outages was 3.3 hours, with local phone companies averaging 3.1 hours and long-distance companies 5.4 hours of disrupted service; (6) hardware problems took the shortest time to fix, and outages caused by natural occurrences took the longest; and (7) 70 percent of customers affected lost service between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

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