Level 3 Enables Free Mobile VoIP, Lands in Africa

April 12th, 2012 by · 1 Comment

Two interesting items for Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT, news, filings) this week, one on the cusp of the mobile data revolution and the other from the the horn of Africa.

Mobile app developer textPlus has selected the Level 3 to help expand its offering nationally. Level 3 will be providing SMS and telephone number services, amongst other things, enabling the application to bypass the traditional voice and SMS capabilities of mobile operators. Since SMS and voice minutes are big revenue generators, the mobile operators frown on this sort of thing but can't complain about data hogs since voice and SMS don't use very much. KPN spent last year complaining about the shift, but perhaps we will be seeing more of it stateside this year.  It's inevitable though, and it will probably soon evolve into the next big network neutrality battleground.

And we got confirmation and additional detail for that item three weeks ago out of Djibouti.  Level 3 is taking its first real step onto African soil, opening a joint PoP with Djibouti Telecom in the small African nation at the entrance to the Red Sea. From that PoP, Djibouti will be able to offer full IP transit service at a reasonable price, boosting internet adoption. Djibouti has big plans for its internet infrastructure, according to the company's General Manager: Abdourahman Mohamed Hassan:

It will also enable us to position ourselves in Eastern and Southern Africa, in the IP business. In five years’ time, we want to leverage our privileged geographical position as the East African countries gateway to the rest of the world.

Well, considering the current state of East African bandwidth, up is the only way to go.  One wonders whether this is a one-time opportunistic move by Level 3, or if they have further African expansion plans in the works for what used to be Global Crossing's assets in the region. The many new cables on the continent's east coast should make the opportunities much easier to reach, and a foothold in Djibouti is a good starting point.

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Categories: Internet Backbones · VoIP · Wireless

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