Crossed Wires

Executives at Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), the world's largest telecommunications company, admit they've been watching the merger wave now engulfing U.S. phone companies with a sense of foreboding. Especially unnerving was the announcement earlier this month that 130-year-old AT&T, the American former monopoly carrier that not long ago was the oldest, biggest and baddest telecom firm on the planet, was about to be swallowed up by upstart regional player SBCproviding a sobering reminder that in the information age, no institution is too big to fail if it squanders its competitive edge. "Technology is advancing fast," says Shuichi Deguchi, senior...

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