Last week Renesys came out with its annual Baker's Dozen analysis of the travails of the major IP backbones, and the most striking thing in it this year was the rapid retreat by both of CenturyLink's acquired backbones: Qwest and Savvis. Over the summer, Renesys looked at the combination of the two and concluded that when combined the two would rank as high as #2 behind the then-pending LVLT/GLBC combination. But by the end of the year, Savvis had dropped from fifth to thirteenth, and Qwest had dropped out of the top tier entirely.
It's unlikely to be a coincidence that the swift change in direction happened as CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL, news, filings) took control of both companies during the year. But on the other hand, it's not going to surprise anyone either. Savvis, while still high on Renesys's ranking, had been de-emphasizing its IP transit business for years while focusing all its effort on colo and the cloud. Qwest's longhaul business had been weak for years, awaiting sufficient capital to switch direction. CenturyLink didn't buy either company for its IP transit marketshare, and is busy repurposing both the network and colo assets toward the enterprise sector.
And while CenturyLink's presence changed the most dramatically, they weren't the only one. Industry giant AT&T (NYSE:T, news, filings) also saw its transit business get smaller to the point that it seems likely to drop out of the top tier this year. Verizon, by contrast, held the rudder steady.
So who picked up that share? Apparently, Cogent, TI Sparkle, Teliasonera, and to a lesser extent Tinet (Inteliquent) and Tata expanded to fill some of the void. That seems to match up well with the aggressiveness each has been demonstrating overall. We'll have to see if the Megaupload incident earlier this winter takes a bite out of Cogent's surge or not. Wait a sec, did that say Sparkle? I had almost forgotten they're still out there!
Level 3 and Global Crossing were still counted independently and held their top positions, as did NTT which becomes the clear #2 as the other two are integrated this year. Sprint held on more strongly this year, although they will likely yield the #3 slot to Teliasonera soon if they haven't already.
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