Ethernet services

Level 3 Antes Up on APAC Ethernet

Ahead of its scheduled acquisition by CenturyLink, Level 3 Communications continues expansion of its global Ethernet services, honoring a commitment made to bring on-demand offerings to Asia-Pacific by serving three cities there: Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.

There will be two access points in each of the three cities and much more to come in APAC, as well as a promised LatAm expansion of the Level 3 Metro 2.0 global Ethernet platform. The platform includes its SDN-based Adaptive Control Solutions allowing customers to turn services up and down on a scheduled or on-demand basis. (See Level 3 Expands Dynamic Ethernet Services to APAC.)

Level 3 Communications was already offering a wide range of services, from connectivity to its Vyvx video services, content delivery network and security services, across Asia, making the addition of Ethernet services not quite the heavy lift it would have been otherwise, says Chief Marketing Officer Anthony Christie.

"If we had been starting fresh in Asia this would have been much harder, but we have been in Asia since the early 2000s, and we already have service capabilities plus we've got a long-standing rich set of relationships with multiple providers at the data center, metro and local market level," he tells Light Reading in an interview.

The company chose its two points of presence in each city based on the data centers its customers most wanted, and went from there, he adds. Customer demand will also drive where Level 3 goes next in Asia-Pacific, although mainland China and Australia are two likely targets.

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Level 3 is pressing the advantage it believes the Adaptive Control Solutions platform gets in helping enterprise customers connect to multiple clouds and is starting with direct connections to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure Office 365, both of which Christie believes are strong plays for the global enterprise market. There will be more cloud connections to come.

"We have also built this from a standpoint of having full redundancy, with a minimum of two PoPs in each market," he says. "With access providers, we never put all of our eggs in one basket, either."

That means Level 3 can offer its customers options for how to connect to data centers from an enterprise location. The company also is offering a range of services realizing MPLS remains the service of choice for some applications.

"Because of the customer base we serve -- global enterprises -- we see them say 'I'm a global account at Level 3 and I've got locations in four different regions around the world and I would like a consistent on-ramp to my hybrid VPN,'" he says. Customers "want to use Ethernet as an access mechanism where it's available -- that has value for existing customers and for new customers," Christie adds.

But as enterprises move to more of a hybrid IT strategy, with some applications in the cloud, they also want a hybrid networking option, and Level 3 offers them MPLS, Ethernet or even dark fiber as part of that consistent on-ramp strategy, Christie says. What the Adaptive Network Control allows customers to do is get the ability to flex up or flex down based on business demand to match the use case.

Level 3 was early to market with on-demand services, thanks in part to capabilities developed by tw telecom before its acquisition by Level 3, but Christie admits he's seeing more competition in the space as time passes. He believes Level 3 has made Adaptive Network Control more widely available than its competitors and will continue that buildout, with initial LatAm deployments expected late this year or early next.

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

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