IHS Infonetics: Optical Network Spending Increases; Data Centers & Japan Bullish on 100G

IHS Infonetics just reported that global optical network hardware spending was up 5% in the first quarter of 2015 (1Q15) from year ago as signs of improvement continued to emerge in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and as Japan prepares for a large-scale 100G rollout.

OPTICAL NETWORK MARKET HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The worldwide optical network equipment market, including WDM and SONET/SDH, totaled $2.7 billion in 1Q15.
  • With 2 consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth under its belt, Europe appears to be exiting an optical slump; results in the region are better than the headline numbers due to the strengthening dollar.
  • The company outperforming in Europe is Alcatel-Lucent, with a steady trend of rising revenue.
  • WDM revenue rose 9 percent globally in 1Q15 from the previous quarter, putting up an 11th consecutive quarter of growth.
  • 100G spending is rapidly increasing worldwide and comprises around a quarter of total WDM revenue, which is flowing primarily into the hands of Alcatel Lucent, Ciena, Cisco, Huawei and Infinera.
  • Internet content providers (ICPs) continue to surge and presently account for roughly one-tenth of North American optical spending, though volatility in future expenditures is likely.

 


Anaylst Quote:

“The focus in optical networking is now shifting to the metro as new products targeted specifically at this market are announced and scheduled for production. This will allow datacenters and traditional service providers to more rapidly adopt metro 100G in a significant way,” said Andrew Schmitt, research director for carrier transport networking at IHS.  

“Meanwhile, the service provider market is fracturing into two factions-the telcos and webcos-each with specific optical transport needs and requirements. Webco spending is growing faster right now, so vendors are repositioning to align roadmaps and marketing with their needs,” Schmitt said.



 

OPTICAL NETWORK REPORT SYNOPSIS:

The quarterly IHS Infonetics Optical Network Hardware market research report tracks and forecasts the global optical equipment market. The research service provides worldwide and regional market size, vendor market share, forecasts through 2019, analysis and trends for metro and long haul SONET/SDH and WDM equipment, Ethernet optical ports, SONET/SDH/POS ports and WDM ports. Vendors tracked include Adtran, Adva, Alcatel-Lucent, Ciena, Cisco, Coriant, Cyan, ECI, Fujitsu, Huawei, Infinera, NEC, Padtec, Transmode, TE Connectivity, Tyco Telecom, ZTE, others.

To purchase the report, please visit: www.infonetics.com/contact.asp

RELATED RESEARCH:

Packet-Optical Transport Deployments Slower Than Anticipated:
http://www.infonetics.com/pr/2015/Packet-Optical-Survey-Highlights.asp

In Data Center Optics Market, 40G Transceivers Ubiquitous, 100G Accelerating: 
http://www.infonetics.com/pr/2015/2H14-Data-Center-Optics-Mkt-Highlights.asp

In Telecom Optics Market, 100G Transceiver Growth Suppressed Until 2016: 
http://www.infonetics.com/pr/2015/2H14-Data-Center-Optics-Mkt-Highlights.asp 

OTN Switch Spending Up 40 Percent from a Year Ago: 
http://www.infonetics.com/market-research-report-highlights.asp 


About IHS (www.ihs.com):

IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of insight, analytics and expertise in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 150 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to sustainable, profitable growth and employs about 8,800 people in 32 countries around the world.


In a related report, Dell’Oro Group said the Optical Transport equipment market reached $2.8 billion in the first quarter of 2015.  The majority of the optical market’s growth was due to the continuous need for more wavelength division multiplexers (WDM). In the quarter, the total WDM market, which comprises 76 percent of the optical market’s revenue, grew five percent year-over-year.

“One of the main drivers for WDM equipment demand is the interconnection of data centers, which are on the rise as users increase their consumption of content such as video,” said Jimmy Yu, Vice President of Optical Transport research at Dell’Oro Group. “Of greater interest in the optical market is the changing customer type, as more of these data center interconnects (DCI) are purchased directly by the enterprise rather than as a service from an operator. We believe approximately 12 percent of WDM revenues in the first quarter were generated from data center interconnection, purchased directly by enterprise customers,” added Mr. Yu.

About the Report  
The Dell’Oro Group Optical Transport Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, average selling prices, unit shipments (by speed including 40 Gbps, 100 Gbps, and >100 Gbps).  The report tracks DWDM long haul terrestrial, WDM metro, multiservice multiplexers (SONET/SDH), optical switch, and optical packet platforms. 

To purchase this report, call Matt Dear at +1.650.622.9400 x233 or email Matt@DellOro.com.

CenturyLink’s gigabit fiber expansion in 17 states targets SMBs

CenturyLink will tap dark fiber in 17 states to expand gigabit broadband, benefiting approximately 500,000 small and midsize businesses (SMBs). The fiber-to-the-premises expansion will enable CenturyLink to broaden service options for SMBs and will involve the introduction of cloud-based business services from Microsoft such as Office 365.

CenturyLink’s symmetrical gigabit fiber service will now reach nearly 490,000 small to medium-size business (SMB) locations in 17 states with the availability of IT solutions including IP networking, voice over IP (VoIP) and cloud capabilities.  The 3rd largest U.S. telco is launching service to SMB customers in parts of Iowa, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin and expanding its availability in nine of the 12 states where CenturyLink initially deployed gigabit fiber for business customers in 16 cities, which it announced in August of last year.

The nine states include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington, and the company also provides 1G-bps speeds in parts of Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.

In addition to its 1G-bps business service, CenturyLink offers 1G-bps speeds to residential customers in 11 cities.

“Our consultative sales team invests in understanding a customer’s business priorities in order to tailor IT recommendations that will address the customer’s needs while alleviating technology pain points,” Shirish Lal, CenturyLink’s chief marketing officer, told eWEEK. “Our local service and support is also welcomed by SMB customers who don’t always have the option of working with technology providers that have feet on the ground in their communities.”  Lal noted CenturyLink is not making pricing details available due to the vast range of options and features available within the bundled solutions the company designed for SMB customers using gigabit fiber.

“Pricing is convenient and predictable as a low monthly price per employee user, which for CenturyLink’s managed solutions includes providing, managing and maintaining all equipment, hardware and software,” Lal said.

“We’re really trying to gain market share and we’re trying to build bandwidth capabilities,” said Valerie Dodd, vice president and general manager of Century Link in New Mexico. “There is fiber here. There already is fiber.”

Ahmen! Hello Google Fiber and AT&T GigaFiber- you’ve got competition now!


CenturyLink President and CEO Glen Post is pleased with the progress the telecom has made in the past year but believes more needs to be done to keep up with changes in technology. “We have to do more transformation,” Post said in a speech to shareholders. “Technology is changing so rapidly. Customers’ expectations are changing. They want anytime, anywhere information. They want it now and they want it simple and easy. And they’re looking for value.”

“We have to do more transformation,” he said. “Technology is changing so rapidly. Customers expectations are changing. They want anytime, anywhere information. They want it now and they want it simple and easy. And they’re looking for value.”

Post said he feels confident in the progress the company made over the past year.

“We made a lot of progress this last year,” he told The News-Star. “We’ve made some key acquisitions for our company. We advanced and expanded our sales force. We rolled out a number of new products that are really driving a lot of interest from our … customers.

“We expanded our high-speed Internet abilities significantly this year. We expanded our video abilities and our cloud and hosting business. We are excited for our future. We believe we have a lot of potential to drive value for our customers in months and years ahead.”


Separately, CenturyLink recently opened a Technology Center of Excellence in Monroe, Louisiana

 

          

CenturyLink officially opens Technology Center of Excellence | CenturyLink

 

References:

http://www.eweek.com/small-business/centurylink-expands-gigabit-fiber-services-for-small-businesses.html

http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/blog/bizventures/2015/05/centurylink-rolls-out-new-high-speed-fiber-service.html

http://www.lightreading.com/gigabit/fttx/centurylink-goes-beyond-gig-for-smbs/d/d-id/715777

http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/local/2015/05/20/post-talks-transformation-centurylink-shareholders/27654579/

CenturyLink’s 1 Gbps service is now available to more than 3,400 business locations in Ohio

CenturyLink’s 1 Gbps service is now available to an additional 8,200 business locations in Minnesota

May 18, 2015 – Company expands gigabit broadband service for business customers in Rochester, Twin Cities and surrounding areas

CenturyLink’s 1 Gbps fiber service now reaches more than 49,000 Southern Nevada business locations

May 18, 2015 – Company’s gigabit broadband service launches to 4,000 additional business locations

CenturyLink’s 1 Gbps service is now available to more than 19,700 business locations in Utah

May 18, 2015 – Company expands gigabit broadband service for an additional 5,500 business locations in Ogden, Orem and nearby communities

http://linked338in.weebly.com/


Read my coverage of the May 15th TiECon 2015 Grand Keynote with 2 representatives of CenturyLink:

->Gary Gauba and Aamir Hussein (EVP &CTO)

View on viodi.com/category/weissberger
 

Verizon Strategy & Network are Morphing as VZ Acquires AOL for $4.4 Billion

by David Dixon of FBR Inc (edited by Alan J Weissberger):

Verizon (VZ) announced today that it has entered into agreement to acquire AOL Inc. for $50 per share(17.4% premium to yesterday’s closing price of $42.59) for total transaction price of $4.4 billion. The transaction will take form of a tender offer followed a merger, with AOL becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon upon completion. The acquisition will be financed through a combination of commercial paper and cash on hand. Management expects the deal to close in summer 2015. (More details on the deal in the WSJ article below)

While we (FBR) do not believe the deal itself is significant, it does show a growing emphasis by VZ to attempt to gain a disproportionate share of millennial viewership which is trending increasingly to over-the-top (OTT) biased and mobile away from linear TV.

Key points:

  • VZ expects to leverage its Internet of Things (IoT) platform to deliver AOL content.
  • AOL’s primary assets include subscription business, a portfolio of global content brands (Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, MAKERS, MapQuest, Moviefone, and AOL.com), programmatic advertising platforms, and millennial-focused OTT original video content.
  • Content remains king but is shifting from Public Internet to Private Networks.
  • As recent industry trend suggests, it is becoming increasingly important for telcos to expand beyond traditional businesses and leverage their differentiated platforms, including mobile and distributed compute platforms (a net new build well underway).
  • Architecture shifts toward deeply distributed datacenter nodes leveraging docker technology and Broadcom’s 100Gbps merchant silicon are key.
  • Simplifying the metro network allows for a superior class of service platform relative to CDNbased public internet traffic because access networks can now tap directly into the content serverin regional datacenters.
  • Taking a page from AT&T and DIRECTV, an AOL acquisition will provide VZ with end-to-end content distribution across VZ’s mobile, video, and broadband platforms.
  • Furthermore, it provides VZ with cross selling opportunities including bundling of AOL’s contentwith VZ’s wireless, broadband and TV services.

WSJ Article: http://www.wsj.com/articles/verizon-to-buy-aol-for-4-4-billion-1431428458

Verizon Communications Inc. agreed to buy AOL Inc. in a $4.4 billion deal aimed at advancing the telecom giant’s growth ambitions in mobile video and advertising.

The all-cash deal values AOL at $50 a share, a 23% premium over the company’s three-month volume-weighted average price. AOL shares rose 18% in morning trading to $50.18. Verizon shares fell 1.7% to $48.98.

The acquisition would give Verizon, which has set its sights on entering the crowded online video marketplace, access to advanced technology AOL has developed for selling ads and delivering high-quality Web video.

“Certainly the subscription business and the content businesses are very noteworthy. For us, the principal interest was around the ad tech platform,” said Verizon’s president of operations, John Stratton, at a Jefferies investor conference early Tuesday.

The U.S. wireless business has matured in recent years, leaving carriers like Verizon,  AT&T Inc. and Sprint Corp. increasingly fighting to steal market share from one another.

Offering digital video-over-wireless connections represents a growth avenue in coming years for Verizon, which last year brought in $127 billion in revenue and profit of $12 billion.

Verizon has said it plans to launch a video service focused on mobile devices this summer. The company has offered few details, but last month Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said the service would offer a mix of paid, free and ad-supported content and wouldn’t try to replicate traditional TV.

The service will feature shorter snippets rather than 30 or 60 minute shows. It also could include multicast programming—a sort of broadcast service that uses cellular airwaves—for delivering live content like sports and concerts, along with on-demand viewing.

That description has left a lot of room for interpretation, and some analysts briefed on the service recently by the company said they came away unimpressed. Verizon, however, like rival AT&T, believes video will be a primary driver of demand for its wireless network in the years ahead.

“This will have nothing to do with what you do in your house,” Mr. Shammo said in an interview on April 22. “Millennials consume news in ways you can’t even see on the TV.”

Verizon already has relationships with many media providers because of its FiOS TV service, which is available in 5.6 million U.S. households. And it has shown prowess in mobile video already, including through a partnership with the NFL that allows it to stream some games over phones.

A year ago, Verizon agreed to pay what people familiar with the matter said was around $200 million to buy Intel Corp.’s fledgling OnCue Internet video service—an asset that underpins the telecom company’s upcoming offering.

For AOL, the sale is the latest chapter for a company that has redefined itself in recent years as a significant player in digital media and marketing, after originating as a pioneer in the dial-up Web access business and being involved in one of the most disastrous corporate mergers ever.

AOL eventually grew to more than 20 million dial-up subscribers and consummated a $183 billion megamerger with Time Warner Inc.in 2000. The company’s value dissipated quickly after the dot-com bust and ultimatelyTime Warner spun out AOL in 2009.

Under the leadership of Tim Armstrong, a former Google Inc. executive who took over as chief executive of AOL in 2009, the company has invested heavily in ad technology—including an automated, or “programmatic” platform that allows marketers to bid for inventory electronically. In 2013, AOL purchased Adap.tv, an “exchange” that connects buyers and sellers of online video advertising.  Mr. Armstrong will continue to lead AOL’s operations, the companies said.

AOL also built a stable of content including online news sites such as Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget. And it has even produced original Web series. It recently launched “Connected,” a documentary-style series in which the subjects film themselves.

In an interview, Mr. Armstrong said the combination of Verizon and AOL would “create what I think is the largest mobile and video business in the United States.” Mr. Armstrong said he believed that AOL would now not only be able to compete with digital advertising giants Google and Facebook Inc., but it also will be able to play in the rapidly emerging connected TV and mobile media and advertising sectors.

“This gives us a real seat at the table for the future of media and technology,” he said.

The deal is expected to close this summer, pending regulatory approvals. Verizon expects to finance the acquisition through cash on hand and commercial paper.


MARKET TALK

Verizon Takes on Heavyweights in Online Ad Sales. So…why AOL? Verizon’s news release runs through an alphabet soup of acronyms–LTE, OTT, IoT (seriously, Internet of things?). None of which sounds very convincing, especially after Wall Street analysts came away from a recent briefing by the company about its video strategy pretty skeptical. One thing is clear, though. AOL has a really good advertising platform. That means VZ will effectively be competing with tech heavyweights like Google, Facebook and Yahoo in the fast-growing online video-ad market. (andrew.dowell@wsj.com)

Verizon Aiming for Younger Eyes with AOL Deal. Everyone’s into video now. AT&T is on the cusp of a $49B deal for DirecTV that will make it the country’s biggest pay-TV distributor. Verizon is taking a different—and cheaper—tack with its $4.4 billion deal for AOL. The diverging strategies of the two telcos seem pretty clear at first glance. Verizon is going after millennials. AT&T has its eye on their parents. (andrew.dowell@wsj.com)

Market Talk is a stream of real-time news and market analysis that is available on Dow Jones Newswires


Analyst’s Opinions:

 

Verizon’s $4.4 billion acquisition plans for AOL will help the prospective parent company gain additional online advertising tools as well as a stream of fresh and varied content, both of which can help attract more users in the face of growing online advertising competition from Google, Facebook and others.

That’s the take of four industry analysts who shared their insights with eWEEK about Verizon’s May 12 announcement that it is buying AOL to bolster its content and online advertising capabilities.

“Overall, I think it will be a good deal for both companies,” said Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT. “My feeling is that the premise everyone is following these days is that mobile technology is going to represent the path of future business opportunities” and that online advertising acquisitions like the Verizon AOL deal can help strengthen such ties.  

“We’re seeing a lot of companies, like the recent Yahoo-Microsoft search deal, as a good example, creating opportunities to allow them to become alternatives to Google,” said King. “Google and Facebook are the two big players here. There are other players who want a piece of that action, and if they don’t move soon, there’s a good chance that they will be frozen out.”

The Verizon AOL deal is a good example of such synergies, he said. “And the relatively modest cost for the deal is indicative that this may not be the only such deal that Verizon does.”  For AOL, “it’s hard to think of a stronger, better parent for AOL to have,” King explained. “Verizon is certainly the 700-pound gorilla of the wireless world.”

For Verizon, the key benefit of the purchase is acquiring AOL’s established online advertising platform, even more than the company’s content, Andrew Frank, an analyst with Gartner, told eWEEK in an email reply.

“I believe this signals a significant shift in the structure of the entertainment and advertising distribution market—it’s clear that digital distribution is the future of all media, and that carriers seek to be more than just ‘dumb pipes’ in this new order of things,” wrote Frank.

A key benefit from the deal for Verizon is that the company “has an opportunity to re-energize its local marketing value proposition, which has flagged with the decline of the Yellow Pages business,” by offering a range of advertising services alongside its communication services, wrote Frank. And at the same time, AOL’s video platforms could help Verizon “take a leadership position in providing the next generation of automated, targeted TV and online video advertising services,” while also further leveraging its mobile footprint “to become a significant player in the fast-growing market for mobile advertising and content services,” he explained.

Frank said he also believes that AOL’s ONE ad tech services, which allow marketers to build their ad campaigns one time across all screen sizes and device types, “have at least as much potential value to Verizon as its content business, even though AOL’s market penetration in this area has not been as significant as its competitors,” he wrote. “Verizon has an opportunity to create more separation between AOL’s content and advertising businesses, which could benefit its ad tech offerings, which are substantial, by removing any appearance of being too close to its publishing business.”

One thing that could interfere with the deal, he said, is if government regulators see the proposed acquisition “as a call for more rules or reforms around the role distributors can play, especially when it comes to data and privacy.”

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, told eWEEK he sees the merger “reflecting the challenges that carriers are having in differentiating themselves through their ‘pipes,'” which are becoming more and more a commodity rather than unique delivery mechanisms to their customers. That means that “carriers need something else to provide stickiness” so that their customers and prospective customers keep coming back to them online, he said. “The benefits to this could be that it gives customers more reasons to stick with Verizon, which could result in improved margins.” 

On the other hand, said Moorhead, “I’m a bit skeptical right now, given the kind of content AOL has. They have assembled some interesting Web news content, but outside of that, I’m not seeing popular, exclusive movie, TV show or music content.” 

In addition, the AOL brand today “is nowhere even near as relevant as they were in 1995,” when it was a huge online player, he said. “AOL [back then] was a bit like Google and Facebook are today.” 

Another analyst, Rob Enderle, principal of Enderle Group, is more skeptical of Verizon’s move and isn’t so sure that the carrier will get as much out of the deal as the company thinks it will.

“With Google entering the carrier space as a [mobile virtual network operator] and T-Mobile  getting ever more aggressive in their moves to take [market] share, Verizon is looking for an edge and thinks content is that edge,” said Enderle. But to make it all work, “they need a critical mass of content and AOL alone won’t get them there, suggesting other acquisitions in the future or that this will fail.”

At the same time, if Verizon uses the AOL content providers to heavily promote Verizon, “these publications run the risk of becoming annoying, or worse, untrusted and will lose whatever value they started with,” said Enderle. “I think this showcases that Verizon is scared to death of what Google and T-Mobile are doing but really have no good idea what to do about it so they are rolling the dice and hoping content can change the battlefield.”

AOL Fits Verizon’s Over-the-Top Content Streaming Future

John Stratton, president of operations for Verizon Communications Inc., spoke at a Jefferies global investment banking conference in Miami on May 12, shortly after the deal was announced and said that the merger with AOL “is a very beautiful complement to the foundation that we’ve been building for several years in digital media services,” according to a transcript of the event.

One area where the merger will show promise is in Verizon’s transition to over-the-top delivery of curated video services to users over existing channels, said Stratton. “For us, the principal interest was around the ad tech platform that [AOL chairman and CEO] Tim Armstrong and his team has done a really terrific job building. We really like the technology a lot and we think of it as a key enabler for us as we begin to generate revenue and value above the network layer. So we’ve talked a lot about our over-the-top video ambitions and this is for us a very important cornerstone enabler as part of that broader strategy,” he said.

For AOL, which merged in 2001 with cable company Time Warner, the latest Verizon acquisition proposal has similar risks to the earlier merger, which was slated at the time to reinvigorate both AOL and Time Warner, but left both sides wanting, said Enderle. “The Time Warner merger comes to mind here in that it failed because the cultures of the two entities were just too different,” he said. “Verizon is more like Time Warner than it is like AOL, suggesting that problem will recur.”

The Verizon AOL deal, which had been rumored earlier this year, will bring together the largest U.S. mobile carrier and the AOL video and print content network, including the AOL Huffington Post Media Group.

“Verizon’s vision is to provide customers with a premium digital experience based on a global multi-screen network platform,” Lowell McAdam, Verizon’s chairman and CEO, said in a May 12 statement. “This acquisition supports our strategy to provide a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers to deliver that premium customer experience.”

The deal allows Verizon to buy AOL for $50 per share, with AOL becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon when it is completed, the companies said. The transaction, which is expected to close this summer, is subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions.

AOL began originally in 1985 as an online communications service called Q-Link, when the company was originally known as Quantum Computer Services. Quantum launched its first instant messaging service in 1989 and introduced the “You’ve got mail!” announcement that became a core identity of the company, which was renamed AOL, or America Online, in 1991.

Large media acquisitions like this one are increasingly common today as companies seek more ways of attracting new customers with increased content that users find valuable. Competitors, including Facebook, are also on the move constantly to find new sources of content that can help them stay one step ahead of competing content and advertising networks.

In March, a report surfaced saying that The New York TimesBuzzFeed and National Geographic, among others, are planning to launch a test program to host their content on Facebook, allowing users to read the latest news and feature articles without leaving the social network. Such moves help content sites such as Facebook remain “sticky” and important for users.

Web portals, including AOL, Yahoo, Google and others, have been following similar strategies to remain relevant in a fast-changing online and mobile-centric world so they can grow and sustain their audiences.

Level 3 Communications: Solid 1Q15 Results–Long-Term Growth Outlook Remains Unclear

by David Dixon of FBR Telecom Services (edited by Alan J Weissberger)

Executive Summary:

Level 3 delivered solid 1Q15 results in its first quarter with full TWTC (tw telecom inc. which they acquired last year) results. Management is executing well and should continue to leverage the global asset platform this year.

Looking into 2016, we believe the advent of a shift to 25G/100G metro networks will reduce the number of optical network elements, lower costs, and be and enabler for direct private networking relationships between content owners and access networks as an alternative to peering and IP transit services on the public Internet.

We think this will create greater pricing pressure for transport services in 2016 and increase disintermediation risk. For the quarter, we were pleased with:

(1) EBITDA  (earnings before interest, taxes and amortization) beat analyst estimates,

(2) increase in FY15 adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow guidance, and

(3) achievement of $95M of annualized run-rate adjusted EBITDA synergies since the close of the tw telecom transaction.

Overall company revenue continues to be driven by IP and data services (~45.7% of total CNS revenues), which grew 9.0% Year over Year in constant currency.

Management believes CDN (Content Delivery Network) will see further growth later this year as more capacity is added. Although we welcome continued margin expansion and CDN momentum, we believe these may be affected by the current shift to a paid peering model1 and further architecture shifts from 2016. We think the FCC believes that the paid interconnection model from a decade ago (where voice traffic was 96% versus data traffic of 4%) worked well then and could provide a roadmap for today’s data-biased traffic. Therefore, content companies and intermediary network providers such as LVLT may see higher interconnection rates going forward, provided that rates are “just and reasonable.” The argument today is in terms of which party should set the interconnection rate.


Note 1.  Paid Peering is the business relationship whereby service providers (Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Content Distribution Networks (CDNs), Large Scale Network Savvy Content Providers) reciprocally provide access to each others’ customers, but with some form of compensation or settlement fee.

Internet traffic flows between different networks generally in one of two ways, through transit, in which a smaller network passes its traffic through a larger one to connect to the broader Internet; and peering, in which large networks connect with each other. Traditionally, smaller networks paid larger ones for transit services, but peering didn’t require any kind of payment from one company to another. Instead, both networks are responsible for their own costs of interconnecting.

Reference:  

Highlights of Peer 2.0 Conference: Aug 3-4, 2014 in Palo Alto, CA


Key Points:

■ 1Q15 results recap. Consolidated revenue of $2.05B was just shy of the consensus estimate of $2.06B. The adjusted EBITDA margin expanded by 130 bps YOY on a pro forma basis to 30.9%, compared with the consensus of 30.4%, and adjusted EBITDA were $635.0M, versus the consensus of $626.1M. Margins benefited from increased synergies associated with the TWTC acquisition.

■ FY15 adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow guidance raised. Management raised full-year 2015 adjusted EBITDA growth guidance to a range of 14% to 17% from 12% to 16% previously. Free cash flow is now anticipated to be in a range of $600M to $650M, up from $550M to $600M.

■ Adjusting estimates: We are lowering our FY15 revenue estimate to $8.6B from $8.7B to account for U.S. dollar strength. Our FY15 adjusted EBITDA estimate increases to $2.6B from $2.5B, as the company should achieve further cost synergies. Our FY15 EPS estimate declines modestly to $1.57 from $1.59. Our estimates remain conservative given the unclear longer-term impact from the likely shift in the peering model, greater price compression from the move in 2016 to 25 GB/100 GB transport services, and adverse demand implications from a shift toward simpler, lower-cost metro networks (a net new build for the industry in 2016) that could raise disintermediation risks for Level 3. 


Q &A:

1. What is the real benefit of the tw telecom merger?

CDN services are becoming commoditized, but the LVLT/TWTC combination will allow LVLT to improve scale and scope by leveraging the domestic and global long-haul footprint and TWTC s dense urban fiber network. TWTC s higher-margin enterprisecentric business should benefit from greater scale. LVLT has a network backbone that includes 180,000 miles of fiber across 60 countries. A long-haul and metro network provider makes sense against a backdrop of increasing competitive pressures, but the move by access networks to create their own distributed datacenters and connect directly to regional agnostic datacenters suggests that the outlook for CDN providers is unclear. We think online content relationships will continue to evolve. 12 to 18 Months time frame.

2. Will network changes amid heavy traffic demands trigger greater disintermediation risk for Level 3?

The Internet architecture, traffic flows, and content relationships are changing fast. Many application service providers are leveraging Level 3 utility services to capture network ownership economics as the value continues to move higher up the stack from the networking layer to the application layer.

The telecom industry is migrating to improved utilization through:

(1) SDN and NFV (following Google’s lead) and

(2) application development with Docker that enables coding and linux containers (i.e., applications, storage resources) to work together more easily and be extracted out to a virtual linux container edge.

Utilization is much improved on common processing platforms with simplified routing protocols, thus shifting the demand curve for network traffic as application flows move on private networks from source origination to destination.

The migration to 25 GB/100 GB metro networks could be the enabler for direct private networking agreements in regional datacenters offering greater security and performance attributes relative to public Internet traffic interconnections.

We believe the migration to paid peering agreements and a rationalization of peering agreements is well underway and should continue to affect Level 3 cost structure.

The key driver is mature broadband penetration that has operators focused on incremental costs. We expect this transition to be implemented methodically as the industry migrates to major private interfaces over the next few years.

Today, traffic ratios increasingly determine the nature of the interconnection relationship to a greater extent than traffic volumes. We believe de-peering risk is significant and/or could create a higher cost structure as the eyeball network operators become more disciplined with traffic ratio imbalances above 2:1.  12 to 24 Months time frame.

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