The local telephone companies of the US have mislaid an estimated $5 billion worth of communications equipment.
The assets appear on the Baby Bells' accounting books but the phone companies cannot locate them, according to a preliminary audit by the Federal Communications Commission.
But an article in 'The Washington Post' reports that an official from one of the Bell telcos admitted to three per cent of the company's equipment being missing - rather than the 10 per cent calculated in the audit.
US consumer groups allege companies inflate reports of their costs to justify higher charges.
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