Choosing the wireline market's top contenders: who backs up their talk?

Samantha Bookman, FierceTelecomThese days, many wireline-centric providers say they're challenging the telecom market or innovating, but how many of them really stand out from the pack? In our new feature, "The Contenders," we take a closer look at five companies that are walking the walk.

The companies we chose for this first installment hail from different corners of the telecommunications vertical. Some, like Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Clearfield, are manufacturer-distributors of carrier-grade equipment. Others, like Zayo, started out as dark fiber providers and have grown into dark and lit fiber network and service providers.

The diversity of our picks kept us from ranking them top to bottom. The size of each company, their annual revenues, the markets they serve, and the products or services they offer--normally among the factors we would use in ranking--varies widely.

It was important to call attention to what these companies are doing in their respective spaces. Or, like Pace (LSE: PIC.L) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), how they are pushing outside of their traditional boundaries to flex with market demand.

Take a look at our Contenders feature here. As always, I encourage you to comment on our picks and to tell us about companies you think fit the profile of a contender--challenging the status quo, innovating within the wireline market, or otherwise making their mark on the industry.--Sam