Building The On Ramp to the Electronic Highway

A $2.5 billion deal may launch an era of cooperation between phone and cable firms

For years, cable-TV operators and telephone companies have behaved like jealous rivals -- spreading gossip about each other's weaknesses, whining to regulators about monopolistic bullying and watching with suspicion any attempt by one to poach on the other's territory. The sniping has grown even shriller in recent months as it became clear that the two industries were on a collision course in their separate efforts to build the so-called electronic super-highway -- that futuristic information pipeline over which people will soon order up everything from the latest Hollywood movies to the hottest new video games.

So it came as somewhat of...

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