While Vertical Systems Group's 2011 year-end global Ethernet report may have seen little change since its mid-year 2011 report with Orange Business Services continuing to hold onto its number one ranking, the research firm noted two key changes from both AT&T (NYSE: T) and Level 3 (NYSE: LVLT).
AT&T rose from fifth to fourth place, while Level 3 gained a spot on the Leaderboard for the first time due to its acquisition of Global Crossing last October.
Similar to CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), which gained a spot on the U.S. Leaderboard last year due to its acquisition of Qwest, Level 3's move onto the list illustrates the effect that acquisitions have on rankings.
Another notable entry into the Leaderboard was BT Global (NYSE: BT), which has been aggressively expanding its Ethernet and overall network presence in various international countries throughout 2011, including Asia Pacific, EMEA, Latin America and the United States.
As of the end of 2011, the top seven Ethernet providers ranked based on port share were: Orange Business Services (France), Verizon (U.S.), Colt (U.K.), AT&T (U.S.), NTT (Japan), Level 3 / Global Crossing (U.S.) and BT Global (U.K.).
Outside of the initial seven, VSG noted that Reliance Globalcom (India), Tata Communications (India) and T-Systems (Germany) attained a position on what they call the next or "challenge-tier" of the Global Provider Ethernet market.
Rick Malone, principal at Vertical Systems Group, said that "A strategic driver for expansion beyond their regional market boundaries is the emerging demand for secure global access connectivity to cloud services."
Malone added that while service providers gained share through their aggressive international expansion plans, service providers like Colt, while holding onto the number three position, actually lost share due to a reliance on financially-troubled European markets.
"We also saw Europe's economic woes depress growth for the region's leading service providers, particularly during the second half of last year," he said. "As a result, Ethernet providers with a broad distribution of port installations throughout the world captured share from others that rely heavily on the pan-European market."
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The mid-year VSG leaderboard had CenturyLink in the top five
VSG also said 2011 was looking like a big year for Ethernet bandwidth