& cplSiteName &

Level With Me: When Rumors Get Real

Carol Wilson
6/16/2014
50%
50%

Sometimes you hear a rumor so often that you stop listening to it. Such was the case for me with the Level 3/tw telecom deal that finally happened today.

tw telecom inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC) has been a targeted acquisition in the rumor mill for so long that it was hard to take the latest round of rumors seriously. (See Level 3 to Acquire tw telecom for $5.7B.)

Obviously, however, rumors persist for a reason. Consolidation is a pervasive trend in telecom, and this is the latest example of why bigger is usually better for competing.

This deal is good for Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT)'s new focus on enterprise services, because tw telecom is the premier Ethernet services provider in the country, according to rankings from people such as Vertical Systems Group and industry reputation. Level 3 has tremendous fiber backbone resources and content delivery deals, while tw telecom has the local fiber reach and strong business market play -- much stronger than what Level 3 has had in the past.

Twice in the past year I've had executives from tw telecom competitors volunteer the fact that they purposely avoid going head-to-head with that particular service provider -- if tw telecom has direct connections to an office building and is actively selling services there, these two competitors look elsewhere to invest their own fiber dollars. The reason was the level of service that tw telecom was delivering and the recognition that it would be hard to beat.

The question for Level 3 will be how this integration is handled and if the combined company can perpetuate the level of service for which tw telecom has become known in the Ethernet world, or whether the integration process itself becomes an issue.

In the past, Level 3 has stumbled somewhat in managing the integration of large acquisitions -- this could well be a case of seeing what was learned from those previous problems.

As I wrote about earlier this year, tw telecom took a different tack when it absorbed a large fiber optic network operator Xpedius, back in the mid-aughts. CEO Larissa Herda and her team decided to bite the bullet and invest heavily in creating a single integrated backend from a hodgepodge of systems. Will Level 3 maintain this kind of integration and commitment. Does it need to? (See Doing the Dirty Work Pays Off.)

So while this may well be an obvious coming together of two players to create one, much larger, more competitive entity, there are still some questions hanging out there to be resolve.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Kreskin
50%
50%
Kreskin,
User Rank: Moderator
6/17/2014 | 5:56:13 AM
Re: Not Made in Heaven
One thing I put little currency in are Wall Street Analysts.

 

They brought us the Internet crash.  The telecom crash of insatiable demand - build it and they will come.

 

And of cousre, the "Too big to Fail" Financial collapse.

 

Finf me a Wall Street Analyst that has actual operating experience and was successful -- then they may have credibility.  Otherwise, they just run numbers.
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
6/16/2014 | 8:40:40 PM
Re: Not Made in Heaven
I actually might have agreed with that assessment more if it weren't for some analysts chiming in - apparently Level 3 has been cleaning up its act, of late, and this may not be as much of a culture clash as it once was. 

I do think it will be interesting to see if the new entity can rise to tw telecom's standard. One indication will be how many of the key tw telecom leadership team are retained.
Kreskin
50%
50%
Kreskin,
User Rank: Moderator
6/16/2014 | 8:02:38 PM
Not Made in Heaven
 

Talk about two totally different cultures -- there is going to be some serious clashes.

Level 3 is a low price player and TWTC is a value player with great discipline, systems and processes.

It's like a High School (Level 3) acquiring an Ivy League University (TWTC).
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/16/2014 | 5:47:43 PM
Re: Once in play; always in play
I think that these types if integrations are indeed difficult. But it is not like the two parties probably do not realize this. A merger like this must be a risk vs. reward proposition. And in order to spend all of this time and money to make it happen there must be some sort of plan to make all the moving parts work together. 

At least, one would think so. 
Ariella
50%
50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/16/2014 | 12:27:32 PM
Re: Once in play; always in play
This reminded me of a rumor that turned out true in my neighborhood several years ago. The rumor was that two private schools were going to combine. People said it seemed so unlikely that it probably was true. Though the principal of one denied it, the merger did take place. However, it proved a difficult marriage, and the two entities divorced just a few years later. 
bosco_pcs
50%
50%
bosco_pcs,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/16/2014 | 12:06:07 PM
Once in play; always in play
Carol:

 

Once something (credible) is in play, it tends to stick around. The only one I can remember that ever got away is GE-Honeywell marriage so long ago and that is because of their sheer size. Look at Sprint and T-Mobile and you can tell the stickiness especially in the size matters area. Of course, the recent growth desperate environment really exacerbates the M&A frenzy. Be thankful it is so much harder for this space to do domicile inversion like the medical space!

 

Just some random musings
More Blogs from Rewired
Lowell McAdam says cable merger no longer seems likely but is still open to other ideas – like a Comcast merger.
Harmonization, minding the product gap, getting 5G right, mimicking Red Hat and praising the Linux Foundation's expanded role all make the list.
Open Networking Summit presentation makes clear that AT&T's journey to differentiated services is one most operators will need to take.
The Senate's vote to cut privacy rules for ISPs just means there's no longer confusion on Internet privacy protection because there isn't any.
Under Ajit Pai, the FCC is doing what major telecom players have wanted by rolling back regulations. Now we'll see if this fuels innovation and consumer benefits.
From The Founder
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Are We All Security Service Providers Now?

5|29|17   |   3:40   |   (2) comments


As the security environment gets more threatening, in the wake of WannaCry and other attacks, service providers need to shoulder more responsibility for securing networks, says Tim Kelleher, vice president for IT security services at CenturyLink, in an interview at the Light Reading Big Communications ...
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Ed Chan on the New World for Networks

5|29|17   |   19:08   |   (0) comments


In this 2017 Big Communications Event keynote, Ed Chan Senior Vice President, Technology, Strategy and Planning, Corporate Networking and Technology, Verizon, discusses the coming world of sensors and the smart edge, powered by new spectrum and faster fiber uploads. For more BCE coverage and videos,
LRTV Interviews
Zayo's CTO: Respect the Infrastructure!

5|29|17   |   3:04   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, Zayo's CTO Jack Waters talked about infrastructure and the changing customer landscape for network providers. While everyone else is chatting up applications and services, Waters urges the industry not to downplay the role that ...
LRTV Interviews
AT&T: Creating Dynamic Networks to Meet Business Needs

5|26|17   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


As enterprises need more dynamic networks, service providers need to deliver on-demand, virtual services to meet those needs. AT&T is creating a networking fabric to mix-and-match SDN technologies for enterprise customers, says Roman Pacewicz, AT&T senior vice president for offer management and service integration, in an interview at Light Reading's
LRTV Interviews
EdgeConneX on Industry Headwinds & Tailwinds

5|26|17   |   2:41   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017, EdgeConneX CTO Don MacNeil discussed the value of partnerships in the digital world.
LRTV Documentaries
4 Steps Toward a Higher Network IQ

5|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, EXFO CEO Philippe Morin explains how sensors and analytics can boost a network's intelligence and enable on-demand customer experiences. Find more BCE 2017 coverage here.
LRTV Interviews
BT's McRae Sheds Light on 4K Strategy

5|25|17   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017 in Austin, Texas, BT Group's Chief Network Architect Neil McRae talks about what it took for BT to broadcast live sports in 4K. Catch up with all our BCE coverage at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
From the Founder
How the NIA Aims to Advance NFV

5|25|17   |   08:07   |   (1) comment


Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
LRTV Custom TV
Better Solutions That Address Growing Scale

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


For Comcast, the X1 rollout and 17-fold increases in broadband speeds in the past 16 years are among factors driving the need for Energy 2020 solutions that reduce cost and consumption, says Mark Hess.
LRTV Custom TV
Ethernity Network Delivers Instant Offloading of Network Functions With All-Programmable Intelligent NIC

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Levi, CEO of Ethernity Networks, explains that programmability of the hardware makes the company's All-Programmable Intelligent NIC uniquely beneficial for communications service providers that need advanced data appliances with agile support of virtualization. Utilizing the company's patented network processing technology, Ethernity offers data path ...
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Vodafone Gets Obsessed With Cloud-Native

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


Vodafone's Matt Beal updates us on Project Ocean and explains why simple virtualization isn't enough of a goal for network transformation. Catch up with other BCE 2017 keynotes and news at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Intel's Take on Network Transformation

5|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In this BCE 2017 keynote, Lynn Comp discusses Intel's vision for areas such as analytics, automation and service assurance. For more videos and BCE coverage, see http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/23/2017
Sonus & Genband Finally Combine to Form $745M Company
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2017
NB-IoT? Not at Those Prices, Say DT Customers
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/26/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
What Brogrammers Look Like to the Rest of Us Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.