Asia's Telecom Players: Struggling To Stay Plugged In

As the crisis drags on, telecom companies across Asia are in trouble

It was one of the great booming businesses in Asia. Millions of newly affluent urban dwellers needed phones, and dozens of companies, from telecom multinationals to local providers, rushed in to meet that need. Investors gladly ponied up billions to get a piece of the action. But even the telecom industry is encountering difficulties in this promising market as the crisis drags on. In many areas, the supply of phone lines now far outstrips demand. Companies with huge ambitions are either struggling to pay off huge debts, fighting off rivals, or waiting desperately for concessions from local governments. Two stories highlight the turmoil. One details the plight of Bangkok's TelecomAsia, a stock-market darling that has fallen far. The second looks at the battle to determine the prevailing cellular-phone standard for China.

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