ILECs and their vendors aren't the only ones consolidating. CLECs have the bug too. Last week, CTC Communications and Choice One Communications, which in February announced their agreement to merge, said they are jointly acquiring CLEC Conversent Communications. The combination of the three service providers will form the second largest CLEC in the U.S., behind only XO Communications, company officials claim. "Now that the CLEC industry has flushed out a lot of the failed companies, the survivors realize that size and scale are important and that the synergies that can be achieved by combining network, sales and back (office operations) can be significant, particularly where there is overlapping territory and you can cut out duplicative network," says Conversent CEO Rob Shanahan.***Nortel is simplifying its professional services portfolio while extending it at the same time. New services include IPTV and VoIP integration. Nortel is also creating a services business unit that will focus on five commercial services areas: integration, security, optimization, maintenance and managed services.***Verizon is adding "applications awareness" services to its Private IP VPN services. The services are designed to help customers monitor and tune the performance of applications like VoIP, ERP and video. They include network assessment, reporting, dynamic bandwidth and packet marking offerings.