Verizon has made an informal bid for MCI, according to The Wall Street Journal, adding weight to analyst predictions that the telco market would consolidate.

The bid was made as part of talks between the two carriers and doesn't represent a firm offer, the newspaper said, citing "people familiar with the situation". Discussions are still under way but have become "meaningful" in recent days. Any such deal could be expected to come close to the $6.3 billion offer recently made by Qwest.

Analysts have been predicted more huge telco deals following the announcement at the end of January that SBC Communications would acquire AT&T for $16 billion.

In addition to speculation regarding MCI, Verizon and Qwest, some analysts also speculated about plans that BellSouth and Sprint might have for a deal with a competitor or each other.