California consumer groups allow CenturyLink to end dark fiber leasing

3 July 2017 by Steve Blum
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If CenturyLink is allowed to buy Level 3, then California will lose a major source of dark fiber. That’s my reading of a settlement agreement between CenturyLink, Level 3 and three of the organisations that challenged the deal at the California Public Utilities Commission. The fourth challenger, the California Emerging Technology Fund, isn’t part of the agreement.

The CPUC’s office of ratepayer advocates and two consumer advocacy groups – TURN and the Greenlining Institute – agreed to drop their protest in exchange for several concessions from CenturyLink, including a pledge to “aspire” to spend some of its planned capital investment in California on network expansions and upgrades, particularly in under and unserved communities.… More

Oops, CenturyLink rebuttal makes the case for CPUC intervention

16 May 2017 by Steve Blum
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CenturyLink had to say something, and there probably wasn’t much else it could say, but its response to protests filed against its proposed acquisition of Level 3 does as much to encourage a rigorous review by the California Public Utilities Commission as it does to dissuade it.

The formal opposition to the transaction comes from a coalition of consumer advocacy groups – TURN, the Greenlining Institute and the CPUC’s office of ratepayer advocates – and the California Emerging Technology Fund.… More

CenturyLink takeover of Level 3 challenged in California

11 May 2017 by Steve Blum
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The proposed purchase of Level 3 by CenturyLink faces two formal protests in California. One comes from a coalition of consumer advocacy groups – TURN, the Greenlining Institute and the California Public Utilities Commission’s office of ratepayer advocates – and the other from the California Emerging Technology Fund. Both generally focus on the impact that rolling together two of California’s four major fiber companies would have on broadband availability, on both a wholesale and retail basis.… More

CPUC will decide if CenturyLink can buy Level 3

1 May 2017 by Steve Blum
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CenturyLink and Level 3 have finally admitted that they need to do more than just throw a note through the window in order to get the California Public Utilities Commission’s approval of their pending transaction. The deal was done last October, but the two companies waited five months to formally apply for permission to transfer Level 3’s California telephone certifications to CenturyLink.

During that time, they tried to convince CPUC staff that it was a purely administrative matter that could be handled with a perfunctory paper shuffle.… More

Dark fiber will disappear if CenturyLink buys Level 3

2 April 2017 by Steve Blum
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CenturyLink’s proposed acquisition of Level 3 continues to rumble through the review process at the Federal Communications Commission. Very little organised opposition has surfaced. Some market-based opposition has come from Incompas, a lobbying group that represents competitive carriers and similar network and system operators. They’re challenging the merger because, among things, it would roll the major independent fiber company in the U.S. – Level 3 – into an incumbent telco – CenturyLink – with a traditional monopoly mindset…

As it stands, the applicants have not provided evidence—or even a statement—of an intent to build vigorously outside CenturyLink’s [incumbent local exchange carrier] region.


CenturyLink gets extortionate pricing bonus from Level 3 deal

15 March 2017 by Steve Blum
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Level 3 is engaging in “extortionate pricing” for the middle mile fiber connections it leases to broadband companies, and the problem will only get worse if CenturyLink is allowed to buy it. That’s the claim made by Windstream, a relatively small incumbent telephone company, based in Arkansas, that also offers data networking and other telecommunications services to businesses outside of its primary coverage area.

Windstream filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission, as it decides whether CenturyLink’s proposed purchase of Level 3 will go forward.… More

CenturyLink tries to hide California market squeeze under pile of paperwork

30 December 2016 by Steve Blum
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CenturyLink is asking the Federal Communications Commission for formal permission to buy Level 3, and it’s trying to portray the deal as a couple of complementary, non-overlapping companies coming together to fight the bigger, badder companies that make the telecoms market so uncompetitive.

Not so. At least where California is concerned.

The filing would have you believe that CenturyLink just…

Provides communications services including voice, wholesale local network access, high-speed Internet access, data transmission, security monitoring, and information, entertainment, and transport services through its copper and fiber networks in the United States.


CenturyLink deal means higher prices for Californian consumers, businesses

7 November 2016 by Steve Blum
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Four into three equals market domination.

Expect to pay higher prices for broadband service – residential, commercial and industrial class alike – if CenturyLink is allowed to buy Level 3, the major independent fiber operator in the U.S., as recently proposed. That’s the picture you get when you connect the dots of a draft decision regarding the state of telecommunications competition which is currently on the table at the California Public Utilities Commission.

You don’t have to connect many dots.… More

California can't hand CenturyLink a fiber stranglehold

2 November 2016 by Steve Blum
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Damage – serious market damage – will result from CenturyLink’s proposed acquisition of Level 3. The two companies argue that the new, combined operation will be a fiercer, more able combatant in the battle for business services accounts, and that might be true up to a point. But along key corridors in California and elsewhere the long haul fiber market will take a giant step toward monopoly.

A quick glance at the national footprint of the new CenturyLink tells the story.… More

Less fiber competition looms as CenturyLink buys Level 3

1 November 2016 by Steve Blum
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Click for the investor presentation.

CenturyLink announced an agreement to acquire Level 3 yesterday. Valued at $34 billion – a combination of cash and stock – the deal would combine two of the biggest wholesale bandwidth providers in the U.S. According to Bloomberg, Level 3 is the second biggest, behind AT&T, and CenturyLink ranks fifth.

Both companies have extensive long haul and metro fiber networks. CenturyLink, which has the legacy Bell systems previously owned by Qwest, has more business locations, but Level 3 has more fiber: 200,000 miles of it.… More