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CELLULARS CHOKE BRAZIL’S PHONE SYSTEM

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The telephone system in Brazil's capital was paralyzed Saturday as would-be cellular subscribers overwhelmed it with calls, broadcast reports said.

Dial tones were rare and connections almost impossible as the state-run Telebrasilia system struggled to deal with callers trying to get one of 19,000 cellular subscriptions.The company had prepared to receive 1,800 subscriber calls an hour but instead was flooded with 40,000 calls an hour, private CBN radio reported.

The system could not handle the load and half the telephones in the capital of Latin America's biggest country were out of service.

"This situation is not going to normalize itself until the calls fall off," a company spokesman told Globo television. Telebrasilia estimates there is pent-up demand for 100,000 cellular telephones in the capital.

Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso has made reforming the state telephone system by opening it to private capital a priority of his economic reforms.