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Old IXCs Chart Individual Paths

Once unified by their emphasis on the long-distance market, IntereXchange Carriers (IXCs) AT&T, MCI and Sprint have become markedly different companies. And the year ahead could bring more dramatic changes, especially for AT&T and MCI.

AT&T is likely to conclude the sale of its wireless business to Cingular by year-end, and recently announced that it will stop marketing investments to capture new customers in its local and long-distance consumer business. There are even rumors that the former giant of U.S. telecommunications could be sold to another carrier or an investment group.

MCI, which emerged from bankruptcy in April after losing billions in the Worldcom accounting debacle, also is the subject of speculations of an acquisition as it works to stabilize the business and stem customer defections.

Of the three, Sprint appears healthiest and to have weathered the recession and telecom downturn the best. It remains committed to its local and long-distance businesses, as well as the profitable and growing wireless business.

AT&T has pegged its fortunes on the business and enterprise market and new services such as VoIP. Commenting on the commitment to business markets and de-emphasis on consumer markets, Chairman and CEO David W. Dorman said that the company's cost structure and financial position in business markets will make AT&T a strong competitor. "We intend to widen the gap between AT&T and our competitors in the business market."

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