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CenturyLink CFO Wants BDS Market Reform ‘Trumped’

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CenturyLink’s CFO hopes President-elect Donald Trump spells trouble for the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal for business data services (BDS) or “special access” market reform.

CenturyLink's Stewart EwingSpeaking at a Wells Fargo Securities Technology, Media & Telecom investor conference Thursday, Stewart Ewing said BDS regulation is the wrong direction for the FCC to move in, and that the commission is basing regulation on outdated information.

CenturyLink is acquiring Level 3 Communications, which has supported BDS market reform. Sunit Patel, Level 3’s CFO, also spoke during the conference, saying BDS reform is a “negative for them and it’s a positive for us, but I do agree that, in general, we do need less regulation.”

Level 3 supported the Verizon/Incompas proposal for expanded price caps on the BDS market.

“We’re on different sides of it but we’re on the same side now,” Ewing said.

On Oct. 7, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released his proposal for BDS market reform, saying it “provides a new framework for this market that strikes a balance between targeted regulation for legacy TDM (DS1 and DS3) services, where evidence of market power is strongest, and lighter-touch regulation of packet-based services, where there has been new entry and competition may be emerging.”

Ewing said CenturyLink is “hopeful that with the change in the election, that it will basically kick the can down the road to a new commission and basically that commission recognize that less regulation is better than more regulation.”{ad}

Level 3's Sunit PatelAlso during the conference, Patel talked about how SD-WAN will be an important tool for the combined company in growing its enterprise business, particularly large locations needing more complex services.

“The benefit for us actually is that you can configure a service on the fly, if you like, with customers because it’s all software driven,” he said. “So the provisioning cycle, the customer experience issues, customers can do some of this themselves.”

Level 3 has been planning to use its SDN-based network to deliver SD-WAN services. CenturyLink began offering a fully managed SD-WAN service to enterprise customers this summer.

“The SD-WAN technology/service we view as a plus-plus for both our customers and us,” Patel said.

Ewing said the Level 3 acquisition is “certainly all about the enterprise.” It will be able to offer larger enterprise customers a much expanded network than what CenturyLink has available today.

“It gives us the chance to step up and be the No. 1 provider [with] a number of our large enterprise customers,” he said.


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