The proliferation of tiny telephone companies formed to lay miles and miles and miles of fibre optic cable in the US is rapidly being brought under control as the weak ones are bought up by the slightly less weak ones. In the role of predator, not prey, at least this time around, is Microtel Inc of Boca Raton, Florida, which has finalised the acquisition of a regional competitor, Jacksonville-based US Dial and its parent, American Teledata Corp. US Dial and American Teledata are long distance companies serving about 1,000 businesses and residents in northeast Florida, and the acquisitions will add to Microtel’s base of over 45,000 subscribers throughout Florida and Georgia. Microtel was founded in 1980 and opened a Jacksonville office in 1984; its network has now been expanded to include major metropolitan areas like New York; Washington DC; Chicago; Detroit; Pittsburgh; and Cleveland. Microtel’s backers include Norfolk Southern Corp, M/A-Com Inc, Centel Corp, Alltel and E F Hutton.