CenturyLink to offer consolidated Ethernet portfolio across 35-market territory

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CenturyLink will move from three Ethernet offerings on multiple platforms to a single offering using Carrier Ethernet 2.0-compliant Ethernet technology across its 35-market service footprint.

CenturyLink has realigned its Ethernet service strategy by consolidating its Ethernet offerings into one common product.

Under this plan, which was revealed during CenturyLink’s fourth-quarter earnings call, the telco will move from three Ethernet offerings on multiple platforms to a single offering using Carrier Ethernet 2.0-compliant Ethernet technology across its 35-market service footprint.

Dean Douglas, president of sales and marketing for CenturyLink, told investors during its fourth-quarter earnings call that the new offering will allow it to more rapidly deploy services to customers.

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“It's a single product that combines four prior products, so we simplified our portfolio,” Douglas said. “It makes it easier to provision and we believe that the speed of provisioning and, therefore, the speed of revenue is going to be greater going forward in the Ethernet product.”

Portfolio rationalization

Prior to this new Ethernet service, CenturyLink had four Ethernet products in the marketplace.

According to CenturyLink’s Ethernet web page, the telco currently offers two main Ethernet product solution sets: Metro Ethernet and E-Line.

Metro Ethernet provides local area network LAN-to-LAN connectivity between two or more customer locations within a metro area. E-Line uses Ethernet over MPLS over a non-oversubscribed dense wave division multiplexing network.

Within each of these service segments, CenturyLink supports multiple topology and application options, including point-to-point, multipoint-to-multipoint and point-to-multipoint.

Douglas said that the new service is “MEF 2.0 compliant so it's a current product, consistent with what we're seeing in the marketplace with our competitors.”

However, the service provider has not provided many details about when the new Ethernet product will be available.

A spokeswoman for CenturyLink told FierceTelecom in an e-mail that “we will likely be making an official announcement on that in early summer.”

A transitional time

CenturyLink’s pending Ethernet move comes at a key time in CenturyLink’s development as a business service provider.

While it currently ranks number 5 on Vertical Systems Group’s Ethernet Leaderboard, the service provider’s pending acquisition of Level 3 will likely advance CenturyLink to second place. By purchasing Level 3, CenturyLink will gain an additional 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 acquisition will also enhance CenturyLink’s on-net building reach. CenturyLink says the acquisition of Level 3 will increase its reach by nearly 75% to approximately 75,000, including 10,000 buildings in EMEA and Latin America.

In the near term, CenturyLink, like its fellow telco AT&T, is not immune to the TDM to Ethernet growing pains, a trend that was again a drag on business revenues in the fourth quarter.  

Business revenues were $2.55 billion, down 4.1% from the fourth quarter of 2015, primarily due to a decline in legacy revenues, which was partially offset by 3% growth in high-bandwidth data revenues.

Strategic revenues like Ethernet and MPLS were $1.23 billion in the quarter, up 1.1% year-over-year from fourth quarter 2015.

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