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The breakup of the Bell Atlantic/Tele-Communications Inc. deal is still sending shock waves throughout the business world, leaving information superhighway proponents shaken and naysayers jubilant.

But what does it really mean, especially now that Time Warner has postponed its Orlando trial?

Advertising Age took the question to its electronic bulletin board, part of the Ad Age Online Edition on Prodigy. The consensus: Interactivity is inevitable, but it may not come as soon as some think.

"The information superhighway is not dead or derailed!" wrote Jeffrey Kagan, president of Tele Choice Consulting in Atlanta. "All the Baby Bells ... will continue on their quest toward developing the highway. The only difference is it will be without TCI."

For Bell Atlantic and TCI, the failure of the deal "may slow their plans somewhat, but both will press forward nonetheless," wrote David Tyler, a student at the University of Chicago business school.

Subscriber Steven Edwards was a bit more blunt: "This deal evaporated because of egos, plain and simple ... TCI made a smart call here. A joint venture with a Baby Bell is akin to a joint venture with Uncle Sam."

Technological changes will permanently alter the way consumers absorb advertising, said David Harris, president of Interactive Marketing Strategies in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"Every fundamental change in advertising has had its false starts and misdirection plays," he wrote.

Advertising Age Online Edition maintains bulletin boards on topics including interactivity, media and letters to the editor.

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