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Phone failure brings MIT, New York closer

By David P. Hamilton

A failure in the New England Telephone System last Wednesday allowed MIT students to make free calls to New York State by dormline, said Roberta Clement, public relations manager of New England Telephone.

The failure occurred in new software installed to facilitate the conversion of Cambridge to equal-access, Clement said.

Rumors that a student hacked the dormline, however, are unfounded, according to Brian Herr, manager of Voice Communications at MIT. He said the failure occurred outside of MIT.

MIT dormline users access a New England toll operator by dialing "90," Herr explained. New England's software normally keeps students from dialing the "1" that connects a long distance line, he added.

The exact duration and the area affected by the failure are unclear. Herr said that Centrex lines and other Cambridge area phones were affected.

Clement, however, maintained that the failure affected only the MIT dormlines.

MIT students reported making calls to New York free of charge as early as Saturday afternoon. The failure, however, was first reported at 9 am Wednesday morning, Clement said.

New England Telephone corrected the problem by 3 pm the same day, she added.

New England Telephone is investigating the failure but has not yet found the source of error, she said.

Clement was unable to estimate the amount of money lost. New England Telephone, however, will assume the cost of the free calls.