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CenturyLink, Level 3 Channel Chiefs: Fierce Competitors Now on Same Team

Business Arm Wrestling
Channel Partners' Edward Gately

Edward Gately

A year in the making, CenturyLink‘s $34 billion acquisition of Level 3 Communications finally is complete, creating a networking services behemoth gunning for competing telcos all over the world.

CenturyLink's Lisa Miller

CenturyLink’s Lisa Miller

About 75 percent of CenturyLink’s core revenue will come from business customers, and nearly two-thirds of its core revenue will come from strategic services. Its network now connects more than 350 metropolitan areas with more than 100,000 fiber-enabled, on-net buildings, including 10,000 buildings in EMEA and Latin America.

Lisa Miller, CenturyLink’s president of wholesale, indirect channels and alliances, tells Channel Partners that CenturyLink and Level 3 partners, along with their customers, now have access to the “largest, most powerful global network, along with comprehensive services and technologies.”

“In the future, our partners will have more opportunities to grow their business with the expanded CenturyLink product portfolio — whether that’s cloud, security, etc.,” she said. “We’re now going to have a robust portfolio of network solutions and advanced IT services. But also we’re really focused on a differentiated customer experience. We want to be easy to do business with, and the strength of the new CenturyLink positions us really well for what our enterprise customers need today.”

Lynda Stadmueller, Frost & Sullivan research vice president, said the merger is going to propel the new CenturyLink as a “very strong contender to the big two: AT&T and Verizon.”

“In fact … in terms of overall network-services revenue, it could move ahead of Verizon and just follow AT&T,” she said. “And based on specific services, it will end up No. 1, 2 or 3 for pretty much a lot of the business services out there. We’re projecting that CenturyLink is going to move behind AT&T in enterprise services.”

CenturyLink is “really good” at acquiring other companies and has been able to quickly integrate them, Stadmeuller said.

CenturyLink's John DeLozier

CenturyLink’s John DeLozier

“The company has a very well-established process where they’re able to very quickly not just do the technical cutovers, because that’s always a challenge, but their process in the past … is to almost immediately combine the teams to ensure that there is a shared ownership of the changes and bring out the best in everybody,” she said. 

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, John DeLozier, vice president of CenturyLink Channel Alliance, and Garrett Gee, Level 3’s vice president of indirect sales channel, talk about what’s in store for partners of both companies and the process for consolidation.

Channel Partners: What’s happening between now and Jan. 1 in terms of CenturyLink and Level 3 partners?

John DeLozier: Between now and Jan. 1, it’s really business as usual for us. We have a year to close out on the CenturyLink side, just like Garrett and team have a year to close out on the Level 3 side. So the best we can do for our partners is close out our year strong and be predictable in [doing that.]

Garrett Gee: Certainly we need to remain focused and keep the momentum that we have on both sides when we start to rationalize and look at consolidation of some of our practices and policies. But for right now and how the partners interact with us, it’s going to be very much the same for the remainder of the year.

CP: What will be the process and timeline for consolidating the two partner programs and partner communities?

JD: Our timeline is the timeline that works best for our partners. Obviously we have a lot of smart people working diligently on both sides of the house and all of our programs, our processes, our tools, the way we do business, etc., and so we won’t rush the field on anything. We’ll continue to take counsel from …

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