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WORLD CUP TICKET SALES TIE-UP INTERNATIONAL PHONE LINES

          Ticketing arrangements for the World Cup "descended
     into chaos" yesterday as a French hotline set up to sell
     110,000 tickets was "swamped by tens of millions of phone
     calls," according to Harverson & Iskander of the FINANCIAL
     TIMES.  An estimated 15 million calls came from the UK
     alone, the "vast majority" of which got a busy signal or a
     message to try later.  Fans from other countries "faced
     similar problems," as in the first hour there were two
     million call attempts from the Netherlands and 1.7 million
     from Belgium.  Although the Comite Francais d'Organization
     (CFO), which had arranged for 90 operators to handle the
     calls, "stood by its system," telecom experts said the
     number of operators "was far too small" (FINANCIAL TIMES,
     4/23).  The flood of calls caused "the continent's worst
     phone congestion in history," writes Fred Coleman of USA
     TODAY, who adds that one of the problems was that the CFO
     "made only one number available" instead of a special number
     for each country. In all, the hotline yesterday received 20
     million calls, and sold 15,000 tickets (USA TODAY, 4/23).   

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