Japan's Nippon Telegraph & Telephone is The Shadow of the global telecommunications scene. No one knows where it will go, but once it moves, it's sure to have a huge impact. For sheer bulk, it outclasses all other carriers. With a well-protected monopoly on local calls in Japan, the company's revenues reached $60 billion last year. Its market capitalization tips the scales at $129 billion, and with 232,000 employees, it's among
the world's largest companies.
But NTT is weighted down with regulatory shackles. It is facing competition in the partially deregulated domestic long-distance market and is barred from carrying international calls. NTT President Masashi Kojima is agitating for freedom from regulation: If he gets his way, NTT's copious cash flow would allow it to sink billions into partnerships. It has already invested $80 million in an American wireless carrier Nextel Communications Corp., and it owns 20% of a Thai phone company. NTT has also signed with Microsoft, Silicon Graphics, and General Magic to provide mul-timedia services in Japan.