As WiMax enters the market, it's helping upstarts like Covad find a way to bypass the Bells, who lease them copper lines. But Covad is a pretty big company, with operations in 44 states. Life is still hard for smaller companies that lack scale and scope. It views itself as a consolidator of smaller wireless Internet access providers. Word is that it's in talks to buy NextWeb, a smaller player in California.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE