Debt tightness still threatening telecom

Third quarter earnings so far have not painted a terribly ugly picture for the telecom industry. We'll learn more as major carriers report earnings this week, but aside from some obvious caution being taken in near-term outlooks, vendor earning reports during the last week did not show signs that the economic slowdown is halting carrier spending.

As carriers report earnings, they may try to put a positive spin on macro-economic pressures by arguing that more customers will stay at home to watch telco TV or surf telco broadband-accelerated Internet--who knows, maybe a few of them will even pick up that dusty old landline phone to call a friend. Still, industry watchers are preparing for a harsher tightening in carrier spending driven by debt pressure. They argue telcos will have a harder time using various forms of debt to pay for network upgrades.

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