CenturyLink sees government dark fiber sales as part of broader managed offering

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) may not be interested in selling dark fiber indefeasible rights of use (IRUs) leases to other carriers, but it does sell the service to government customers as part of a managed service offering.

Under the terms of the General Services Administration's (GSA) Networx Universal contract, CenturyLink and the two other prime contractors AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) are required to offer dark fiber services as part of their service portfolios.

However, the service provider said that its federal government customers don't purchase dark fiber separately. 

"Dark fiber was a requirement to be in our portfolio when we bid on Networx Universal, but when GSA structured dark fiber on that contract is not the way customers buy it," said Lisa Bruch, VP of sales and marketing for the federal government team at CenturyLink. "We never sold any dark fiber under that contract."

Bruch added that customers that purchase dark fiber pairs are bundling it with a number of lit services such as Ethernet, wavelengths, and professional services.

"Our dark fiber customers in the federal government market tend to be customers buying dark fiber that's managed for them and lit for them by us with a lot of professional services," Bruch said. "Some companies make a business about selling the assets and doing IRUs, but we do it as part of our managed offering."

The service provider has continued to win task orders under the Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts.

In January, CenturyLink won four fair opportunity task order awards for Ethernet services from the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) that are worth up to $10 million combined, for  example.

Similar to other traditional telcos, CenturyLink has not been a provider of dark fiber services to other customers, particularly carriers, due to the fear that they could be arming a competitor with a key asset.

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