Like other industries, one of the dominant characteristics of the telecommunications industry is the augmenting number of consolidations (mergers and acquisitions) and alliances. Competitive advantage in this industry depends considerably upon economies of scale. Consequently, many firms in the telecommunications industry worldwide have sought economies of scale through numerous mergers, acquisitions, and alliances. Bell Atlantic first merged with Nynex and then merged with GTE and formed Verizon Communications, while SBC Communications and Bell South formed a joint venture called Cingular Wireless. Qwest Communications acquired U.S. West, and SBC Communications acquired the Ameritech Corporation. Table 9.1 shows major telephone mergers in 2000. As the industry continues to consolidate, it seems that the remaining players are shifting their focus away from slow-growth core markets, such as local and long-distance service, to emphasize greater growth areas such as broadband data, wireless, and international markets. These top-tier global players include WorldCom, AT&T, SBC Communications, and Verizon Communications (formerly Bell Atlantic and GTE). The second tier of global competitors includes Global Crossing, Sprint Phone Group, Qwest Communications (with merger partner U.S. West and investor Bell South), British Telecommunications PLC, and Deutsche Telekom AG.