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Getting details of France Telecom's new strategic direction proved difficult yesterday, and not because officials at the state-owned utility were unwilling to talk. In fact, insiders were talking to anyone prepared to listen. The problem was getting through.

A France Telecom spokesperson in London had promised an enlightening conference call to discuss the matter. A conversation between two European capitals boasting modern, state-of-the-art telecom companies should not have proven too difficult but on the first try, Paris could hear London but London could not hear Paris. The next try lasted 10 seconds before Paris dropped out. Several more attempts ended in failure. In the end the call was put through to Paris direct, by-passing the miracle of conference calling altogether. Perhaps France Telecom should not privatise just yet.