With the $34 billion acquisition of Level 3, CenturyLink's network now connects more than 350 metro areas with 100,000-plus fiber-enabled buildings in North and Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.
To approve the purchase, the Department of Justice required CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) to divest itself of several Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) networks and offer leases of at least 25 years for dark fiber it owns along 30 intercity routes across approximately 20 states.
The MSO predicts 75% of core revenue (a non-GAAP measure that includes broadband, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), Ethernet, colocation, hosting, cloud, video, voice over IP and IT services) will now come from enterprise customers, while strategic services will generate approximately two thirds of core revenue. This creates new opportunities for -- and expectations from -- CenturyLink's managed services, cloud and other business-focused groups.
That includes Pasha Mohammed's team. As senior vice president of product development for network, cloud and managed services at CenturyLink, Mohammed expects to spend this year investigating and expanding the provider's use of next-generation broadband and network technologies, he told Broadband World News. Following are excerpts from the interview BBWN Editor Alison Diana had with Mohammed in late December.
Broadband World News: What were the top three technology trends you reviewed or deployed in 2017?
Pasha Mohammed: There were several but here are three. Encrypted wavelengths, which we launched this past fall, address enterprises’ need for secure, encrypted fiber optic networks that can manage the ever-increasing amounts of data and latency-sensitive information.
We also introduced our SD-WAN solution last summer in response to the explosion of connected devices and applications in the cloud, and the need for more control and flexibility in managing those applications. SD-WAN brings software-defined network technology to the network edge. This allows enterprises to create secure, private networks over a mix of public and private infrastructure, and dynamically adjust their bandwidth needs in real time.
Finally, cloud will continue to be an integral part of the network mix, and the introduction of our multi-cloud management lets customers easily orchestrate the delivery of infrastructure, applications and services across multiple clouds.
BBWN: What requirements or opportunities are driving your investment in access networks in 2018?
PM: 2018 will be a big year for CenturyLink in terms of exploring and investing in new technologies and product enhancements. Key areas of focus include higher bandwidth options, meaning 100Mbit/s and above, to as much of our footprint as possible; fixed wireless access, where we provide flexible options using various wireless technologies to reach consumer and enterprise; enterprise metro Ethernet, which puts a continued focus on expanding CenturyLink's Ethernet footprint on-net to reach more enterprise clients, and increasing scale and speeds, which includes migration to 100Gbit/s Ethernet for 10- and 100-Gbit/s enterprise access.
We're also focusing on automation, flow-through provisioning using Netconf/YANG and network technologies such as segment routing. We'll continue our work with NGPON2 and vOLT to provide increased, cost-effective methods of access for FTTx deployments. Virtualization of the OLT function drives an open ecosystem and efficiency, while SDN and network functions virtualization allows us to virtualize as many network functions as we can.
BBWN: Which technologies are of most interest to you for deployment or trial in 2018?
PM: In addition to further enhancing or expanding the technologies we launched last year, a few areas we’re exploring include 5G wireless access and DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing) open-line systems.
BBWN: How would you sum up 2017, in one word or phrase?
PM: Transformation. Our enterprise and consumer customers are in varying states of their own digital transformation journey, and their expectations for customer experience and the use of technology to meet their personal and business needs are the highest they've ever been. As a network provider, CenturyLink not only plays an integral role in their ability to transform, but also is engaged in our own digital transformation. That means focusing on the customer experience while developing ways to advance our services and security to address business needs today and well into the future.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.