Updated from 7:12 a.m.

The telecom consolidation talks are heating up again, according to published reports.

The New York Times

, citing executives close to the talks, reported Thursday that

SBC

(SBC)

is in talks to buy

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

. The report indicates talks are in a delicate stage on the way to a possible deal that could cost SBC more than $16 billion.

The report shows that telecom consolidation remains a matter of desperate hope for investors, who have rumored talks between practically all the industry's big players in recent years. Old-line telcos have been battered by falling prices along with strong competition from wireless service, and all have been slashing costs through layoffs in recent quarters in an effort to bolster their investment performance. Meanwhile, the red-hot wireless industry has seen a number of big deals in recent weeks, including one pairing

Nextel

(NXTL)

and

Sprint

(FON)

.

Recent years have brought talk of possible deals involving both AT&T and SBC with Atlanta-based Baby Bell

BellSouth

(BLS)

. Two years ago, AT&T-BellSouth talks foundered on price, however.

The report pushed shares of AT&T up 4% in early action Thursday, while SBC was unchanged.