Ma Bell Rides Again

13.5 billion dollars. Keep that number in mind as you marvel at how much AT&T is willing to spend, the regulatory hassles it will have to endure, the acquisitions it might make in the coming years to get into local calling. That's because $13.5 billion is what AT&T shells out every year to the nation's local phone companies for access to their networks. That constitutes about 40% of AT&T's cash operating costs and equals almost one-third of its total revenue.

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