Why so long to close? While Level 3 has historically closed deals in about three months, there is a reason they gave themselves until the end of the year this time. When Global Crossing bought Impsat, it took them seven months to close the deal due to slow regulatory progress in Latin America – particularly with Conatel in Venezuela. I don’t think Venezuela has become, shall we say, more interested in smoothing the road for a US based telecom.
Not everyone is jumping up and down with joy over the deal. XO has been one of GLBC’s main metro access providers in the US. Since LVLT is surely going to move what it can onto its metro footprint, some of that will come out of XO’s hide. Infinera provides both LVLT and GLBC with much of the DWDM gear that powers their bandwidth, and the consolidation of those inventories mean capex efficiency – and capex efficiency means needing less equipment. And the GLBC fiber in the US is built on fiber from the Qwest network, now owned by CenturyTel who is collecting the O&M for it. Some of that fiber will get returned, much as that of Genuity did back in 2004. And both EdgeCast and Limelight will be losing a longstanding carrier resellers of its CDN services – though I don’t think that’s ever been all that large a phenomenon for Global Crossing.
Will IP transit prices find greater stability? Wholesale IP transit as a business has been one of the toughest neighborhoods in telecom for a decade. Level 3 and Global Crossing are big players in it, and they sit at #1 and #2 on top of the Renesys rankings. Their combination could theoretically change the dynamics. But actually, I doubt we will see much of a shift. The two cater to different arms of the sector, but the price drivers have always been the Cogents and Hurricane Electrics and the other hungry smaller networks.
Is there a cloud in Level 3’s future? Until now, they seem to have focused mainly on serving bandwidth to cloud providers. But combining Level 3’s US and European datacenter footprint with Global Crossing’s large enterprise and multinational business would seem to give them the assets to move deeper into it directly. Perhaps we shouldn’t think of another network as Level 3’s next M&A, but rather a cloud-related technology acquisition – or buildout.
Transatlantic possibilities? It’s been a decade since either company has built a new cable, but with the extent of their US/European revenues and the fact that AC-1 and AC-2/Yellow will probably maxed out soon even with the recent upgrades, might the merger not give them the impetus to build the next transatlantic cable? After all, Hibernia Atlantic is building one now for latency which will challenge Global Crossing’s AC-1’s current speeds for NY-London, and Level 3 has had a strong interest on all major legs of the the low latency marketplace since the beginning.
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