Karl Strohmeyer, Senior VP of Wholesale for Level 3 Communications - Wholesale Allstars

Karl Strohmeyer, Senior VP of Wholesale for Level 3 Communications Wholesale, like the leaders of other wholesale carriers had to ride out the unforgiving economy throughout 2009.

Before taking on his current role, the former BellSouth and NetRail executive was the vice president of Level 3's wireless channel where he led sales efforts for mobile carriers. 

While the dire economy forced some markets such as Asia Pacific--a market where Level 3 provides submarine cable landing station backhaul--to retrench their network investments, Strohymer is seeing requests from Asia-Pacific network carriers to expand their reach into the U.S. and Latin America.

Speaking of Latin America, Strohmeyer sees a number of opportunities from carriers that are looking for new options to connect into the U.S. market.

"The explosion of the requirement for IP is forcing the second-tier carriers to find options," he said. "If you think about South America, there are only three cable systems and the owners of those systems hold everyone else at bay because they provide access to the region, which has been great for Level 3 because we provide that landing station access in Florida."

On the domestic front, Level 3's main drivers for growth encompass a couple of main areas including middle mile network services, Ethernet and wireless backhaul.

Leveraging its existing long-haul network regeneration sites, Level 3 won a $13.7 broadband stimulus grant to provide middle mile switched Ethernet-based services to rural carriers that reside along the path of its intercity long-haul network.

"If you look at our inter-city network in the U.S., we have in-line amplification locations," Strohmeyer said. "The idea is every 60 miles, we have a hut or a big data center and 47 of those in six markets we're using the stimulus money and some of our own to break out what is traditionally facilities to provide middle mile services to cable, wireless and emerging providers."

Ethernet continues to be a big seller for Level 3. Just last week, Level 3 announced that it would expand its switched Ethernet footprint to an additional 300 sites. Currently, Level 3's switched Ethernet service is in 47 markets today and it will be in about 65 markets in June.

Ethernet and fiber has also been a major driver into its backhaul play as well. In the wireless backhaul realm, Level 3 not only provides capacity to wireless operators, but also to other wireless backhaul specialist operators such as Tower Cloud and FiberTower. 

With all of these irons in the fire, Level 3 appears to be getting back on the growth curve, but their biggest challenge in 2010 will be in sustaining that momentum.

Karl Strohmeyer, Senior VP of Wholesale for Level 3 Communications - Wholesale Allstars