Level 3 enters the broadband stimulus race

While the three largest U.S. telcos and even Comcast have opted out of the broadband stimulus race, Level 3 Communications is applying for the first round of funds with plans of providing network services to potential customers outside large NFL cities such as Denver, Colo. Level 3 sees its long-haul and metro fiber wholesale service networks as an enabler to help cable operators, LECs, wireless providers or state and local governments that want to extend broadband services to unserved and underserved regions. Having an alternative wholesale provider partner in smaller towns and cities would not only provide more service choices, but also greater network diversity for business customers.

Level 3's interest in the broadband stimulus funding highlights its ongoing presence in the rural telecom market. In April, Level 3 struck a wholesale services deal with Open Range Communications to deliver broadband wireless services to more than 500 rural communities 17 states.

What makes Level 3 a good partner to independent and competitive providers in tier 2-3 cities and towns are the optical amplification points it previously built to establish its nationwide network footprint. "When we built our national fiber optic network, we had to put in regeneration nodes, to re-amplify the signal, in tier 2, tier 3 and tier 4 markets," said Edward Morche, senior vice president of the Federal Markets Group for Level 3 Communications. "If you look at where we have those regeneration nodes-- and there are about 500 of them--we are looking at a couple of dozen that we could use [to apply for stimulus funding] for the first round."

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