FCC limits scope of merger reviews as it okays CenturyLink-Level 3 deal

31 October 2017 by Steve Blum
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CenturyLink can close its deal to buy Level 3 Communication, and will probably do so tomorrow. The Federal Communications Commission gave the final green light to the deal on Sunday, without imposing any significant conditions. The FCC’s decision amounts to a manifesto that lays out how the republican majority will sharply restrict its review of future mergers and acquisitions.

The previous democratic-majority FCC took a broad look at proposed mergers, sometimes imposing conditions aimed at extracting general public benefits, but not necessarily directly related to problems caused by the transaction itself.… More

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

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

When communications go down, communications companies fail to communicate

28 February 2014 by Steve Blum
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No one picked up the phone until a bullet hit a PG&E transformer.

More than ten months on, the motive and people behind fiber cuts and gun shots south of San Jose last year are still a mystery, according to a briefing given to the California Public Utilities Commission yesterday. The incident happened on 16 April 2013, knocking out Internet service to thousands of AT&T customers. A PG&E substation was also damaged, although no power outages resulted.… More