Will AT&T Make Concert a Solo?

The American giant may be preparing to buy out British Telecom's half of their global communications network

When AT&T (T ) and British Telecommunications (BTY ) teamed up in 1998 to form Concert, they predicted that their 50-50 joint venture would be that rarity of rarities -- a synergetic powerhouse that actually worked. The idea was to provide a single service that big corporations could use all over the world, reducing the hassle of dealing with numerous local carriers. AT&T had just paid $5 billion to buy an international network from IBM. Concert would use that to provide long-distance service from the border of one country to another, and it would partner with local carriers in 60 countries to complete the connections. Sure, differences over strategic direction had marred a similar effort, the Global One venture of France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, and Sprint. And yes, an earlier version of Concert, which included BT and MCI, fell apart after MCI sold itself to WorldCom. But the new Concert was going to be different.

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