They're back. The diligent number crunchers have churned out yet another spate of surveys.

• An attempt to stimulate local services competition had "many nations mandating local loop unbundling," Yankee Group says in The Race to Win the Last Mile: Local Loop Unbundling Around the Globe. Despite varying frameworks for LLU around the world, regulatory agencies are plugging ahead.

Yankee Group's findings show operational LLU varies significantly, and its key challenges are to strengthen regulator powers and increase willingness to curb anticompetitive behavior. The study also says LLU hasn't hit the Middle East and Africa, with their pending liberalization of local markets. Conversely, Asia-Pacific is hugely diverse in LLU agendas and implementation, while the United States is at a turning point with attempts to overhaul the '96 Telecom Act.

• That's bad. AOL Time Warner placed first on a list of least trusted companies on the Internet, a Gartner survey says. The company beat out banks, brokerages, credit card companies,, large retailers and — Microsoft.

According to Gartner, 37 percent of all online consumers claimed a high level of distrust for AOL, compared with 29 percent who don't trust Microsoft.

• The real estate market is saturated with telecom facilities, showing a disturbing 39 percent vacancy rate, says commercial real estate firm Grubb & Ellis Co. The firm tracks 56 million square feet of commercial space devoted to telecom functions, most fewer than 4 years old.

The company says telecom real estate — or buildings of more than 20,000 square feet with at least 75 percent of that allocated for telecom, data center, carrier hotel or co-location use — dropped to a 38.9 percent vacancy rate in the second quarter, compared with 44.6 percent in the first quarter. The numbers compare with office vacancies of 11.5 percent nationally and industrial vacancies of only 6.7 percent in the quarter.

Undaunted, builders are constructing another 5.4 million feet of telecom space, with only 18.5 percent pre-leased. And another 6.4 million square feet of space is planned, but will need to see metro vacancy rates fall below 10 percent before those can be "rationalized," G&E says.

Finally, "substantial" amounts of sublet space returned to the market in the wake of telecom bankruptcies and downsizing.