Embarq excels after spin-off

Who: Embarq, the fourth-largest incumbent local telco in the United States, and the largest of the independent telcos (those not affiliated with a former Bell company). Lines in service: 6.8 million. Employees: About 19,000.

History: This telco is all of 15 months old. It results from the move by Sprint to spin-off its local wireline and logistics businesses after it acquired Nextel Communications.

Who's in charge: Former AT&T Wireless chief Dan Hesse is CEO. Hesse also once was the much-heralded leader of free space optics start-up TeraBeam. Neither that technology nor Hesse's firm were ever able to match the hype.

Why you should care: Much is being made of how Embarq's stock price is now higher than Sprint's, and how Embarq is excelling with the wireline assets Sprint dismissed. However, Embarq's story is more interesting for how the company has pushed into "integrated calling features" that converge fixed and mobile networking, as well as its expected campaign to offer TV services over its own network.

What's next: Some industry watchers say Embarq could be acquired by another larger telco, such as Qwest. Stay tuned. 

For more:
- read this story in USA Today