Japan's Posts and Telecommunications Ministry should decide next week on the future shape of mega-carrier NTT. The Ministry is considering three options for the break-up of NTT, which has vigorously opposed deregulation.
The first plan is to split NTT into one long distance operator and two regional companies, with a holding company to control the three units.
The second is to divide the company into a carrier providing the circuits, and several operators.
The third option is to keep the company under one overall management team, with autonomous operational divisions to handle different areas of business such as circuits and software.
Analysts believe the first alternative is the most likely. The long distance company would be able to enter the international market, a first for NTT except in limited joint ventures, and would open the way for NTT to make alliances with non-Japanese partners. It is already being courted by the BT-MCI partnership, Concert.
The holding company proposed under this plan would also go some way to countering NTT's main objection to break-up, that its research and development resources will be slashed. The overall company could maintain the research programmes and provide a single entity in the foreign market.
However, since NTT would in effect remain one company, the liberalisation of the domestic Japanese market could be limited. Opponents say there would be virtually no openings for competitors in this situation and NTT would remain, in effect, a monopoly.
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