tw telecom’s 2013 Project: Instantaneous Bandwidth

February 13th, 2013 by · 39 Comments

On yesterday’s conference call, tw telecom’s CEO Larissa Herda announced an ambitious new network platform that they will be putting together this year. Going by the moniker ‘Constellation’, the new platform aims to give enterprises the same sort of flexibility and speed they can get from cloud computing for their network pipes.

That means point-and-click, instantaneous bandwidth on a pay as you go basis to whatever data centers house the applications on the other end. That would certainly be a far cry from today’s circuit by circuit provisioning process that is still the rule in the telecom world. She didn’t use the SDN acronym explicitly, but the underlying concepts of software defined networking are clearly what the company has in mind:

Our vision for our constellation platform includes increasing the velocity of how customers buy our dedicated network services driven by the ability to more quickly access and consume network and IT services. To achieve that increased philosophy requires changing enterprise’s traditional network constraints for security, flexibility, choice, speed, and ease of use. We believe that automation and rapid connectivity are the future versus the circuit-by-circuit dedicated connectivity of the past as enterprises need to shop, buy, consume, and manage services differently as well as interact with their network providers in a new way.

If there’s any network operator in the US that is ready to take this plunge right now, it’s tw telecom. They don’t have anything to integrate, they’ve got 18,000 on-net buildings to work with, and their network and business model are tightly focused on the enterprise and tend not to be weighed down with much legacy baggage.  On the other hand, they’re going to have to scale it from the start.

The whole network automation thing is certainly coming, but there are a lot of questions still outstanding before we know how it’s really going to work out. Obviously you can’t sell stuff instantaneously unless the equipment is already in place to handle the full range of likely needs. How much overprovisioning does it take to make this work, and how do you price it pay-as-you-go to justify that?  There has to be some sort of tradeoff between price and flexibility here for both service provider and enterprise buyer.  And then there’s the question of just how flexible enterprises ought to try to be in running their networks, touching the configuration too often can be a bad thing.

Lots of challenges ahead in this sort of automation, I look forward to seeing how tw telecom handles them.

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Categories: Cloud Computing · Metro fiber · SDN

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39 Comments So Far

  • Anonymous says:

    Haven’t burstable bandwidth products been around for awhile? Is this really new?

    • beetlejuice says:

      Yes, but I think you are confusing two different ideas. Bursting is set a basic service thats paid for, don’t rate limit it, and forget it and the customer can burst above their contracted service with no changes to network just a high usage charge. Never seen it work well other than with generic internet. I think what Time Warner is proposing is going from no service to a new service which would be interesting and I bet its not on internet since thats not really their thing which is even more interesting.

    • It’s not IP transit, they’re talking about dedicated, secure Ethernet pipes on the fly to one or more cloud resources across the access infrastructure that is already in place. Or at least, i think that’s what they mean. We’ll know more when they get beyond the words stage.

      • Anonymous says:

        It doesn’t sound like this is necessarily Infinera and their DTN-X Instant Bandwidth expansion, with the decision point being with the telecom.

        TW looks to be envisioning click-and-buy Client-side Ethernet bandwidth, with the decision point being with the customer.

    • This is not burstable, it is dial up real-time or pre-scheduled layer 2 E-line products currently. You can dial it up or down and just pay an hourly rate per Mb. It is available and ready to go accross our network with more to come.

  • CarlK says:

    I could never understand all the hoopla as well as “support” surrounding this slow growth, ultra conservative company in a space where “exponential” growth will not materialize by way of conservatism, unless somehow its investor influences are of The Cable Company Ilk knowing about its “Time Warner” history.

    Everyone loves Marissa like everyone loves Raymond, but I digress except to say that Century Tel is probably not going to be taking her out on a date anytime soon.

    Excluding the dividend cut, what is Wrong Street going to do with a company whose TOP LINE as well as “access lines” continues going down, albeit at slower rates?

    This is the REAL Carlk, don’t look down!

    • CoCo says:

      The things they announce with network-wide BoD and now this certainly don’t suggest to me that they are conservative, unless you mean smart and thoughtful with where they place their bets by not swooning over badly overpriced chunks of fiber so they can say they bought someone, too. If thats what you mean, I can see why you wouldn’t get them over your darling Level 3, which continues to fail to make money for their investors. And doesn’t have the Zayo flash and pizazz of a few acquisitions per year that give us and the CEO lots ot talk about on public boards.

      Imagine that, CarlK’s most coherent post in ages was also the least thought-out.

  • Carlk says:

    Which cable company do you think this “slow to no growth” CLEC working from a “small base” will buy them out now? The market supposedly refuses to pay up for non growth companies, except in cases where “consolidation” of entities like this are imminent.

    I think Level 3 should fix their asses good by pricing services for competing contracts at or near zero for a specified time, or at least until they can put companies like this asunder. No premiums for slow or no growth allowed!

    What would they have to lose considering the way Wall Street prices their stock anyway? imo

    • CoCo says:

      Way to miss the point part 2. Your idea of a telco’s primary aspirations of being bought leaves no wonder why you pick the “winners” you do.

  • Carlk says:

    Also, if you want to see a lack of reading comprehension or “understanding” or is it “coherence” inclusive of being misleading since everything this anonymous clown says holds so much weight in various places, check out this “pot” calling the “kettle” black comment by enron Blow Hard!

    He is a dangerous Man Of Foul Odor(MOFO) when referencing “single digit” ebitda growth vs. factual “double digit” during the heat of LVLT’s report day.

    I anxiously await that other gnat, ccoi’s “VERY LATE REPORT” along with his comments when they finally do. imo

  • CarlK says:

    Now I’ll take my meds. Level 3 is driving me crazy.

  • Carlk says:

    Not yet, there is more REGULATION FAIR DISCLOSURE to be shared.

    You pay a DEAR PRICE with “investment friends” like these! Carl Buffett

  • O.Mason says:

    CarlK, I told you we at SEAM would not be idle with Level 3. 🙂

  • CarlK says:

    Ottis Hawkins, you and Prem Watsa are excellent shareholders of Level 3! Without your help, LVLT would not doing so great. I’m sorry for calling you a bald eagle, please forgive me. I also ask for forgiveness from en_Ron_hubbard. I’m turning over a new long leaf.

  • Me says:

    Just go with Time Warner Business Class fiber, we give you 1Gb ready to use from day 1.

    • CoCo says:

      Way to miss the point.

      • Ben Graham says:

        CarlK Buffett,

        One of my favorite value investors – Francis Chou is becoming quite the telecom investor.

        Look at his collection, it includes
        Chunghwa Telecom (NYSE: CHT, TWSE: 2412) the largest telecommunications company in Twain. 

        I’m looking forward to seeing him trade his LVLT notes into LVLT stock.

        • CarlK says:

          Ben Graham, you may be behind with your assumptions regarding Francis converting his 15 percent usury bonds into Level 3 shares. Why? His 13F is for the period ending 12/31/12. That $30.250M in principal was paid off as part of the $172M maturity balance saving some 6.37M shares from being issued. Has Wrong Street accounted for this “save” yet or is stealing cheap stock still the MO?

          As for Fran’s 6.50 percent note maturing in 2016 and converting into 79,352 shares at $18.53, he will have a better chance.

          However, that amount of shares will hardly position him to “director status” like those other wannabee directors, “enron” and “schmuckinsurance” who are holding so many LVLT shares!

          That other moniker Berkshire H., who may or may not be you is onto something more important with Loomis, Sayles and 2015, however.

          Bring it on!, including The Mother of Telecom Consolidations representing “The Telecom SHOT heard ROUND the WORLD!” 🙂

          • Ben Graham says:

            Yes Berkshire H. is my middle name, just like Loomis is Warren’s second name when he wants to have a low profile. We went through this at the Corner of Berkshire & Fairfax over a year ago, about Buffett indirectly using Loomis to wiggle in on LVLT.

            When Warren dips his toe in the water of Level 3, it will indeed be one hell of a big bang and some toe stub.

  • Carlk says:

    Truth is to my impostor friends on this board including that known hack “LEVEL(3)” from Investor Village, that Big Prem and O. Mason do “NOT” control a big portion of that $475M convert with 17.59M piggy shares coming to market by or before 2015 at $27 pps, so who DOES? 🙂

    Rob, these impostors are making a mockery out of your board. You need to tighten up your security by hiring “The Network Partner You Can Rely On!” LOL

  • Berkshire H. says:

    … a big portion of that $475M convert with 17.59M piggy shares coming to market by or before 2015 at $27 , so who does?

    LEVEL(3) and Loomis know it is Warren’s BRK who has a big portion of the 2015 converts.

  • CarlK says:

    It is true that there may be no better time in the history of “dirt cheap money” for a financially fit Tech Titan or Railroad Baron with ROW’s, both whom are FLUSH with CASH to their EYEBALLS, to wrest control of Level 3’s mammoth debt portfolio by placing it in its FINAL RESTING PLACE into perpetuity, i.e. a new blended rate of capital which makes Titans in Telecom and Cable jealous!

    Should NOBODY make a move in this environment,”then there’s something really wrong going around here” when thinking about Al Pacino in “And Justice For All!” Enjoy the clip starting at the 4:14 marker.

    That $40B still growing “cost new” factory is waiting for that JOLT, so tell O. Mason to make sure it happens fast while ruining the “Good Thing” these “Good Fellas” like
    “but, but, but” Buddy Miller keeps bragging about with respect to his “GLOBAL BUSINESS” of bringing all EYEBALLS together as ONE!

    Let the timing of HNZ along with its “equity premium” and in force “price of money” be their guide. Interest rates going where, how fast, and when?

    That Kiewit Mafia does resemble Cosa Nostra a bit, now don’t they! “Bring it on!” Carl Crowe wants to make a deal because he is tired of their BS! Let’s make a deal, Jim! imo

  • Ben Graham says:

    Put some ketchup on LVLT and the elephant gun will used by WEB, to take down STT, SEAM, Fairfax.

    Level 3 Communications is in the hands of one big family.

    Longleaf Capital Management

    Below are listed some of the financial stalwarts that have most affected our investment philosophy and ideas about finance.

    Warren Buffett- Berkshire Hathaway- 
    Bill Gross- Pimco- 
    Bruce Berkowitz- Fairholme- 
    Daniel Fuss- Loomis Sayles-


  • CarlK says:

    I will take ketchup in the form of BRK for my LVLT shares without making a FUSS over Daniel’s timing of “interest rates.” 🙂

  • CarlK says:

    P.S. Ketchup tastes a hell of a lot better than eating more Crow!

  • CarlK says:

    If all bonds converted into shares without a bend minorities over inducement resembling fairfax and seam earlier, that would save over $47M interest expense per year for the next two years and $13.65M in the third year($60M aggregate interest saving expense), while bringing fully diluted shares to approx. 250M. The sooner the better considering the new voip is NOT cns CF, but I don’t expect it.

    I’d rather see Todd’s they get “acquired” still lower probability event come to pass. imo

    • en_ron_hubbard says:

      ” If all bonds converted into shares”

      CarlK, this is a persistant delusion that you have. Please present a reasoned argument as to why any convert holder would ever convert prior to maturity except as forced by the terms of the security.

      After you attempt this task I will get out the finger puppets and try to explain to you why you are living in LOL IMO land.

  • CarlK says:

    oops, make that $107.65M aggregate interest expense “SAVINGS” during the next three years!

    That is something to make a “FUSS” about! imo

  • Fancy Pants says:

    Moronic CarlK comments and LVLT obsession aside, I have some old friend connects on the inside. This is not Infinera or bursting.

    Her version of events, they have a series of APIs and software packages that offer network control to the exchange providers, best I can tell. Let them change settings or create network based on their own decision criteria like quote a service or turn on a new MPLS. Pretty cool if you ask me, but the proof is in the examples they show to the world and evidence that the ASPs are interested in an exchange. We all know how the carrier ethernet exchange turned out. And this company does not like sharing information.

  • CarlK says:

    Enron, you are failing at reading comprehension again. The first time was blatant misinformation by you in the early morning of the report on IV, however(low single digit ebitda). Besides, it wasn’t me who suggested anyone would convert, it was some other La La Land poster(s), was it not?

    Moreover, you can see the manipulation in favor of bondholders by IB’s including Goldman reducing their price targets beneath the important $27 “conversion price” now, can’t you? This is NOT be ACCIDENT.

    Sell this company, and it will realize a significant premium vs. this over priced, slow growth CLEC, twtc, you continue to pump up the volume on.

    • en_ron_hubbard says:


      The ancient Greeks regarded the sphere as the perfect object– no matter what angle or what perspective it was observed from it maintained its shape and form. It is in this way that you might be described as a spherical asshole. There is no way of looking at your views or posts and come to a conclusion any different than you are an asshole.

      It is unfortunate that Rob’s site lacks an ignore feature thereby allowing you to infect most every conversation with your inconsequential drivel.

  • Earthlink doomed says:

    What a waste of a thread. Carlk go start your own blog about level 3 and keep it there. you’re junking up everyones threads.
    and BTW this product is already here and for sale, call and ask about Dynamic Cappacity.

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