With Level 3 assets now in its fold, CenturyLink is looking to enhance its business in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, a move that reflects its growing global capabilities to address multinational corporations (MNCs) that have business in the area or need access into the United States.
Both CenturyLink and Level 3, when they were separate companies, always had a presence in APAC, but each of the service providers managed it as an extension of its North American sales organization.
Before the merger, CenturyLink and Level 3 were building out network and related facilities in the region. Having a larger combined set of fiber and network assets positions the new CenturyLink to respond to its customers in Asia Pacific.
Matt Gutierrez, who was recently named senior managing director for Asia Pacific at CenturyLink APAC, told FierceTelecom that the service provider can now build on the sales funnel opportunities it has.
“CenturyLink and Level 3 had a lot of customers in Asia, but we never treated Asia Pacific as a region,” Gutierrez said. “Both companies managed it as an extension of North America out of the sales organizations, which has worked quite well for us, but when you look at how we developed it’s an area we think we should be more attentive to and focused on serving.”
Expanding its influence
Advancing its Asia Pacific market influence should not be a big stretch for the new CenturyLink.
The service provider will continue to focus on the MNC customers it has already and look to attract others that it may have not been able to win before because its story in the region was not as strong as a competitor like AT&T or Verizon.
“If our customer sets are the existing multinational companies that we have as customers already in North America, EMEA and Latin America who buy from us in Asia or in some cases bids we lost out because we did not have as robust offering as some of our competition, it is us looking at the region and seeing where we want to make the investments,” Gutierrez said. “These investments would focus on bringing us up to par and helping our customers focus on the global needs from the digital transformation they are going through and how do we enable that on a global basis.”
Since each country in the Asia Pacific has its own rules about foreign network ownership, CenturyLink will partner with other local carriers to get necessary fiber and IP-based service access to business customers.
“The ownership structure on what you can own varies by country,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez added that CenturyLink sees an opportunity to disrupt the Asia Pacific market where U.S.-based competitors may have not aggressively invested into in recent years.
“If you look at the competition, the other Western-based global companies that had built out into Asia several years ago and have either declined that investment or not maintained that investment,” Gutierrez said. “We’ll to look to expand our network footprint through virtual pops via partnerships that we have today.
But network assets are only one part of the equation.
The service provider will also be able to use its well-established set of employees already present in the region from both companies. It currently has over 2,000 existing people that work in various customer facing roles for managed hosting and security as well as a call center in India that supports the broader company.
“There’s a fairly large headcount resource that allows us to do two things: better serve those global multi nationals with better time zone and language and the other piece where we can support those Asian customers that want to go global,” Gutierrez said. “We designed the region a bit different in that we will sell to customers that would buy services from us all over the world.”
Global MNC, carrier focus
While CenturyLink may face great challenges challenging incumbents inside specific Asia Pacific regions, the service provider sees its role as being the supplier of choice for MNCs that need broader multiregion coverage and services.
Besides reaching Asia Pacific, the service provider can help an MNC get access into other countries including the United States, EMEA and Latin America.
CenturyLink now offers its larger enterprise customer base the benefits of Level 3's global footprint with a combined presence in more than 60 countries. MNCs can also get access to the new set of 100,000 buildings, including 10,000 buildings in EMEA and Latin America, giving the telco a larger footprint to deliver Ethernet and software-defined services.
Initially, CenturyLink will look to lure MNCs that have a large presence in the region to win customers that operate within the region.
“In the short term we’ll look at the multinational corporations that have operations in Asia,” Gutierrez said. “As a company, our differentiator is we have operations in multiple regions and we can connect and manage data all around the world.”
However, Gutierrez said that while it might be challenging to win a “10-site network or a managed hosting opportunity that’s just in Japan, but if it’s a global company with global needs, we can differentiate ourselves.”
Like the MNCs, CenturyLink is also seeing wholesale opportunities with over the top content and traditional carriers that need access into its three other regions as well.
The service provider now has an even larger network. In all, a wholesale customer would be able to get access to over 200,000 route miles of fiber, including 64,000 route miles in 350 metropolitan areas and 33,000 subsea route miles connecting multiple continents.
“The other piece is selling to large Asian carriers and we’re starting to see OTT customers wanting to expand out of region,” Gutierrez said. “That’s an area we’re targeting.”