The top priority for CenturyLink for 2018 will be integrating the operations of Level 3, said CenturyLink CFO Sunit Patel yesterday. Other CenturyLink priorities for 2018 will include making the customer experience digital and positioning the company to offer its network on a shared services basis, Patel noted.

CenturyLink Priorities
CenturyLink completed its acquisition  of Level 3 in November, thereby creating a company that will have considerable clout in the enterprise market. At the time the acquisition was announced, CenturyLink said the combined company would get 76% of its business from enterprise and wholesale customers, making it the most enterprise-focused of any major U.S. communications service provider.

In integrating the two companies, Patel said management will look at “people, organization, platforms, how we go to market, and product rationalization.”

As for making the customer experience digital, Patel pointed to high-tech “West coast” companies that have conditioned customers to look to the internet for service and support. CenturyLink no longer wants to rely on 800-numbers to answer customer questions about why the network is down and when it will be back up.

This approach is commonly called digital transformation  and it has been an important priority for telecom and other companies recently. According to Patel, CenturyLink’s vision involves digitizing the customer experience “all the way from quoting to collecting payment and bills.”

The third priority, offering the network on a shared basis, is a longer-term goal, Patel noted. The company wants to go to market with a network that can support service on a shared basis versus completely private connections, he said.

“We think that is the long-term future of the business,” he said. He cited a 2019 to 2020 timeframe for that objective.

Although he did not call it out as a priority, Patel also mentioned at least twice that the company expects to do broadband upgrades on a tightly targeted basis. He noted, for example, that the company might upgrade customers within a zip code if that zip code has strong demographics and includes both business and residential users.

Patel made his remarks at the Citi 2018 Global TMT West Conference yesterday, which was also webcast.