Next year will be make or break for many of the telecoms industry's leading players, according to market analysts.
After a period of consolidation throughout 2002, a small number of global and regional carriers will preside, experts say.
Speaking at a round table debate in London earlier today (6 December), Camille Mendler, director of the Convergent Communications Europe Research Practice at analyst group Yankee, said that the current telecoms arena was a "revolving door" and that most companies were in talks with each other over mergers and acquisitions.
"We will see a handful of global players and a few regional ones, and those providing the best quality of service will be the ones which succeed," she said. "The question service providers should start to ask their customers is: 'What do you want to do with this network?' not 'Point to point will cost you this much'."
Jean Yves Charlier, president of marketing and sales at global carrier Equant, agreed and welcomed the recent collapse of BT and AT&T's Concert joint venture.
"I think that the Concert failure was healthy for the industry," he said. "It goes to show that joint ventures do not work. When you create an alliance you do not have seamless technologies, but multiple networks."
Charlier added that he foresaw more consolidation in the industry next year. A number of smaller players in the market have been tipped as likely takeover candidates by analysts, including global IP network carrier, Global Crossing.
"Some analysts have said that Global Crossing will not survive 2002. It's a real acquisition target," said Mendler.
But Global Crossing is adamant that the claims are invalid, arguing that next year will be tough for every carrier. "We're in a solid cash position and now we've built our network our capital expenditure has fallen," said company spokesman Mish Desmidt.
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