CenturyLinkIn its year-end 2017 Carrier Ethernet Leaderboad, Vertical Systems Group announced a major change. For the first time since 2005, a company rather than AT&T has captured the top spot, with CenturyLink now in first place.

CenturyLink’s ascendency was made possible by its merger in November 2017 with Level 3 and the parallel growth in ports billed for by both companies. In the last edition of the Leaderboard, Level 3 ranked second and CenturyLink ranked fifth.

“In addition to the shakeup at the top of the LEADERBOARD, U.S. Ethernet installations exceeded the milestone of one million ports in 2017,” said Rick Malone, the principal of Vertical Systems Group, in a press release. “Overall, the fastest growing Ethernet deployments were driven by higher speed cloud connectivity and IP VPN access. Service providers cite price compression as a continuing challenge, as well as delayed network purchase decisions due to SD-WAN evaluations.”

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AT&T now is second in the listing, followed by Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Comcast, Windstream and Cox. Network providers must garner at least 4% of the domestic Ethernet services market as measured by billable retail customer ports to be included.

ethernet leaderboard feb 2018
Source: Vertical Systems Group

Highlights of the latest Vertical Systems Leaderboard include:

  • The U.S. retail Ethernet port base grew 13% in 2017 and finished the year with more than one million ports.
  • Seven Ethernet providers qualified for the 2017 LEADERBOARD, as compared to nine in 2016. The two company exits were XO (acquired by Verizon) and Level 3 (merged with CenturyLink). As a result, the U.S. LEADERBOARD has no companies from the Competitive Provider segment for the first time.
  • Four Incumbent Carriers (CenturyLink, AT&T, Verizon, Windstream) and three Cable MSOs (Spectrum Enterprise, Comcast, Cox) are represented on the latest LEADERBOARD.
  • Comcast had the highest organic growth of the LEADERBOARD companies in 2017, growing its base of Ethernet ports appreciably without an acquisition.
  • Six Ethernet providers qualified for the 2017 Challenge Tier, as compared to four in 2016. New entrants Frontier and GTT moved up into the Challenge Tier from the Market Player tier based in part on acquisitions of Ethernet assets. These companies join Altice USA, Cogent, Sprint and Zayo.
  • Each of the seven LEADERBOARD companies has attained MEF CE 2.0 Ethernet services certification, and each employs MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professionals (MEF-CECPs). Spectrum Enterprise leads with more than 800 MEF-CECPs, followed by CenturyLink with greater than 500. Companies on the U.S. Ethernet LEADERBOARD plus Challenge Tier employ more than one-third of the 5,500+ MEF-CECPs worldwide.

Vertical Systems Group offered two other classes of providers. The Challenge Tier focuses on providers with between 1% and 4% share. At the end of 2017, they were (in alphabetical order) Altice, USA, Cogent, Frontier, GTT, Sprint and Zayo.

The Market Player tier features those with less than 1%. Those providers (also in alphabetical order) are Alaska Communications, Alpheus Communications, American Telesis, Birch Communications, BT Global Services, Cincinnati Bell, Consolidated Communications, Crowne Castle, DQE Communications, Expedient, FiberLight, FirstLight, Global Cloud Xchange, Great Plains Communications, Hawaiian Telecom, Logix Fiber Networks, LS Networks, Lumos Networks, Masergy, MegaPath, Midco, NTT America, Orange Business, RCN Business, Tata, TDS Telecom, Telstra, TPx Communications, Unite Private Networks, US Signal and WOW!Business.

Image courtesy of flickr user Yuri Samoilov.

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One thought on “Ethernet Leaderboard: CenturyLink Overtakes AT&T for the Top Spot

  1. I've been watching these mergers that CenturyLink has entered into over the years.

    These days, it's still very difficult to tout "best" of anything considering all the negative reviews CenturyLink customers have posted online and in forums; but perhaps they are #1 in gross customerbase. Still, the most difficult thing to accept is that CenturyLink accepted CAF I and CAF II funding, then actually wrote to customers that their CAF-elligible funded area will recieve funding, but CenturyLink has "flexibility in selecting blocks to build in CAF II, as long as we offset the location in another funded census block". CAF is a fund, approved by the taxpaying public and congress, to increase internet speeds throughout the US.

    However, this specific letter, posted online, was signed by someone named Joni L. Duran, someone still on-staff with CenturyLink.

    Considering CenturyLink only touted merger of Level3 as a benefit to their business customers, it makes perfect sense that CenturyLink would be looking to grow it's business customerbase at the expense of residential. It's quite possible that the new leadership at CenturyLink will be looking to divest of consumer business to companies like AT&T and Verizon– the types of companies that have qualified wireline technicians available.

    Only when CenturyLink divests of its residential customerbase will its terrible market valuation be lifted. Then, and only then, will being #1 in ethernet hold some sort of value. (Besides, it was probably service originally setup by someone who was friendly on the phone… Maybe even TimeWarner Telecom.) But until the divestitures of residential business happens, CenturyLink technical staff will continue to be trained by management to blame "wiring inside the house or dwelling"… And well, in many areas, to get to gigabit services, AT&T and Verizon have been installing coaxial cabling.

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