Lumen Technologies announced the expansion of its edge computing services into Europe. The low-latency platform businesses need to extend their high-bandwidth, data-intensive applications out to the cloud edge. This expansion is part of Lumen’s continued investment in next-generation solutions that transform digital experiences and meet the demands of today’s global businesses.
“Edge computing is a game-changer. It will drive the next wave of business innovation and growth across virtually all industries,” said Annette Murphy, regional president, EMEA and APAC, Lumen Technologies. “Customers in Europe can now tap into the power of the Lumen platform, underpinned by Lumen’s extensive fiber footprint, to deploy data-heavy applications and workloads that demand ultra-low latency at the cloud edge. This delivers peak performance and reliability, as well as more capability to drive amazing digital experiences. Customers can focus efforts on developing applications and bringing them to market, rather than on time-consuming infrastructure deployment.”
Today, Lumen Edge Computing Solutions can meet approximately 70% of enterprise demand within 5 milliseconds of latency in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Additional locations are planned by end of year. Lumen Edge Computing Solutions bring together the power of the company’s expansive global fiber network, on-demand networking, integrated security, and managed services, with edge facilities and compute and storage services. This allows for quick and efficient deployment of applications and workloads at the edge, closer to the point of digital interaction. Customers can procure Lumen Edge Computing Solutions online, and within an hour gain access to high-powered computing infrastructure on the Lumen platform.
Lumen offers several edge infrastructure and services solutions to support enterprise innovation and applications of the 4th Industrial Revolution. These include:
- Lumen Edge Bare Metal offers dedicated, pay-as-you-go server hardware hosted in distributed locations and connected to the Lumen global fiber network. Edge Bare Metal delivers enhanced security and connectivity with dedicated, single tenancy servers designed to isolate and protect data and deliver high-performance.
- Lumen Network Storage enables customers to take advantage of secure, scalable, and fast storage where and when they need it. The service allows enterprises and public sector organizations to ingest and update data at the edge using whatever file storage protocol meets their needs.
- Lumen Edge Private Cloud provides pre-built infrastructure for high performance private cloud computing connected to the Lumen global fiber network. Lumen Edge Private Cloud is fully managed by Lumen and helps businesses go-to-market quickly with the capacity needed for interaction-intensive applications.
- Lumen Edge Gateway is a scalable Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) platform for the premises. The service offers a compute platform for the delivery of virtualized wide area networking (WAN), security, and IT applications from multiple vendors on the premises edge.
- Lumen Edge Computing Solutions meet approximately 97% of U.S. enterprise demand and approximately 70% of enterprise demand in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands within 5 milliseconds of latency.
- For a current list of live and planned Lumen edge locations, visit: https://www.lumen.com/en-uk/resources/network-maps.html#edge-roadmap
- As part of the Edge Computing Solutions deployment in Europe, Lumen enabled an additional 100G MPLS and IP network connectivity, as well as increased power and cooling at key edge data center locations.
- Lumen manages and operates one of the largest, most connected, most deeply peered networks in the world. It is comprised of approximately 500,000 (805,000 km) global route miles of fiber and more than 190,000 on-net buildings, seamlessly connected to 2,200 public and private third-party data centers and leading public cloud service providers.
- In EMEA, the Lumen network is comprised of approximately 42,000 (67,000 km) route miles of fiber and connects to more than 2,500 on-net buildings and 540 public and private third-party data centers.
- Lumen Edge Computing Solutions: https://www.lumen.com/en-us/solutions/edge-computing.html
- Lumen Edge Bare Metal: https://www.lumen.com/en-us/edge-computing/bare-metal.html
- Lumen Network Storage: https://www.lumen.com/en-us/hybrid-it-cloud/network-storage.html
- Lumen Edge Private Cloud: https://www.lumen.com/en-us/hybrid-it-cloud/private-cloud.html
- Lumen Edge Gateway: https://www.lumen.com/en-us/edge-computing/edge-gateway.html
About Lumen Technologies and the People of Lumen:
Lumen is guided by our belief that humanity is at its best when technology advances the way we live and work. With approximately 500,000 route fiber miles and serving customers in more than 60 countries, we deliver the fastest, most secure platform for applications and data to help businesses, government and communities deliver amazing experiences.
Lumen Technologies is one of a large and growing number of telecom companies counting on a broad expansion of its fiber network. The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) recently reported that the fiber industry is entering its “largest investment cycle ever” thanks to the efforts of companies like AT&T, Verizon and Lumen.
Lumen hopes to build its fiber network to 12 million new locations over the coming years. But it won’t be easy, according to Lumen CEO Jeff Storey.
“Supply chains are stressed, and we continue working very closely with our diverse and valued suppliers to mitigate risk as we execute on our growth objectives,” Storey said this week during his company’s quarterly conference call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. Others have issued similar warnings.
“I don’t want to overstate the issue, but it’s something that we are really paying attention to and working with vendors. We are starting to see some companies hold off on taking new orders. And as we see that, then we are working to put in our mitigation plans to make sure it’s factored into our build plan. But it is an issue that I will highlight as a real one that we have to mitigate.”
Lumen Technologies reported fourth-quarter results and 2022 expectations that generally fell below the forecasts of some financial analysts.
“Lumen’s 2022 guidance will fuel concerns that the company will have no choice but to eventually let leverage rise to inappropriate levels, dial back on investment, cut the dividend, or choose some combination thereof,” wrote the financial analysts at MoffettNathanson. “In particular, 2022 EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization] guidance was noticeably below expectations at a time when capex will be elevated.”
“Results at this stage don’t give investors confidence in the company’s ability to earn an adequate return,” wrote the financial analysts at New Street Research.
Lumen and other fiber providers like Frontier Communications and AT&T are moving forward with their fiber buildout plans. Some, like AT&T and Frontier, are reporting big gains in the number of their new fiber customers. But others, like Lumen, are not.
“The past few quarters have been relatively weak for broadband net additions for Lumen, even for its higher-speed fiber offering,” MoffettNathanson said of Lumen’s consumer broadband business. “This quarter’s broadband net adds were at the low end of what the company has reported over the past few years and were shy of consensus estimates.”
The financial analysts at Evercore wrote that Lumen’s business segment drives three-quarters of the company’s revenue, and that too remains stressed. “The jury remains very much out on the company’s prospects in this sector,” they wrote, noting that sales in the company’s business segment declined slightly in the fourth quarter when compared with the third quarter of last year.
New Street analysts say a key metric for Lumen will be the percentage of customers in a given area who opt to purchase its new fiber optic access. If Lumen gets 40% of potential customers to sign up, the company likely will generate profits. “At 30%, the company would likely destroy value,” they warned.
Lumen CEO Storey stated that the company has already managed to get an average of around 29% of customers in its new fiber markets to sign up for its service. And that, he said, is with relatively little marketing.
He expects that number to be above 40% in the months and years to come. “If you look at the quality of the product that we have, we have a very effective competitive product and even with the limited marketing, we are doubling our penetration rates in our traditional copper areas,” Storey said.
New findings from the financial analysts at Cowen are supportive of Lumen’s fiber optic build out plans. The Cowen analysts recently conducted a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 respondents and found that fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) “take rates” reached 56% among those surveyed.
“Take rate, or more specifically, market penetration, is a key driver of the FTTH business case,” they wrote. “We have previously noted that a penetration rate of 30-35% is the typical minimum break-even threshold when underwriting FTTH projects. When there is one broadband competitor, fiber penetration can approach high-50s and even 60% penetration levels in mature markets.”
Lumen CMO Shaun Andrews said: “One of the things that really differentiates us right now is our focus on fiber as part of the core infrastructure to an edge experience versus a distraction with 5G or content. And being able to look an enterprise in the eye and say ‘Not only do we have these capabilities, but we will build the fiber to you where you are.’ That resonates with customers, and I think that’s a differentiator.”
Last month, Lumen reported that they secured a massive $1.2 billion contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), setting it up to give one of the biggest government agency networks a major makeover.
Under the contract, Lumen will “completely transform” the USDA’s network covering 9,500 locations across the country. It will provide a range of services, including SD-WAN, managed trusted internet protocol, zero-trust networking, edge computing, remote access, virtual private networking, cloud connectivity, unified communications and collaboration, contact center, voice-over-internet protocol, ethernet transport, optical wavelength, and equipment and engineering.
Lumen Technologies, formerly known as CenturyLink, has agreed to sell a large part of its U.S. network to Apollo Global Management for $7.5 billion, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. The report was later confirmed by Lumen.
A collection of telephone lines and broadband infrastructure (which cover 6 million residential and business customers across 20 states, mostly in the U.S. Midwest and Southeast) are included in the deal. So is $1.4 billion of assumed debt by Lumen.
“If you look at the markets that we’re transferring to Apollo, these are markets that Lumen would not have invested as heavily in,” Lumen CEO Jeff Storey said in an interview. “Apollo will put the investment into these markets that we believe they can sustain.”
Lumen’s remaining operations will focus on large business clients, which generate most of its revenue, as well as home-broadband subscribers in 16 states including Colorado, Florida and Washington.
The sale is the latest course change for Lumen, the company known as CenturyLink until its 2020 rebranding. CenturyLink was among the few remnants of the former AT&T monopoly (e.g. US West then Qwest) to survive into the 21st Century, though it avoided copying peers’ pursuit of wireless customers and focused its attention on landlines. In July, Lumen said it was selling its Latin American assets to infrastructure investor Stonepeak Partners LP for $2.7 billion.
CenturyLink grew much bigger after it agreed in 2016 to merge with Level 3 Communications, a network operator focused on large U.S. business customers. The combination yielded billions of dollars in savings and tax advantages, though executives faced challenges stitching together the business cultures of CenturyLink, based in Monroe, LA, and the operations inherited from Level 3 in Broomfield, CO.
For Apollo, the Lumen deal plays into a thesis the firm has developed with the new company’s executives around the need for fiber-based broadband to be expanded in the U.S. While fiber is a superior consumer broadband technology, many potential providers of fiber have lacked the access to capital to upgrade their sprawling networks, according to Aaron Sobel, the Apollo partner who led the deal. As a standalone company, the new entity won’t have other capital needs that take priority.
“It’s very difficult to carve out these states from a large telco,” Mr. Sobel said. “You’re dealing with a business that is legacy and theoretically declining and returning it to growth.”
Lumen is keeping the customers and pieces of its consumer broadband network that seem like a good fit for its fiber business. Everything else it had no plans to invest in is headed to the new company, as it discussed would happen just a few weeks ago.
“We are actively looking at selling non-core assets to unlock value in our business,” Lumen CEO Jeff Storey said during an earnings conference call in May. “If we find transactions that are positive to shareholders, we won’t hesitate to move forward.”
Apollo’s plans aren’t laid out in detail in The WSJ’s article, but it did identify several former Verizon executives who would be leading the new telecom concern absorbing Lumen’s mostly copper-based customers. They include Bob Mudge, Chris Creager and Tom Maguire, a group that helped launch Verizon’s FiOS FTTH service.
Just last week Lumen announced it was selling its Latin American business to Stonepeak, an investment firm, for $2.7 billion. In that transaction, Lumen formed a U.S.-based company that would be in Stonespeak’s portfolio to operate and run its divested network and other assets.
About the Transaction
What Does Lumen Retain?
What Will Apollo Acquire?
21mm Enabled Units
7mm Enabled Units
2.4mm Fiber Enabled Units
0.2mm Fiber Enabled Units
3.4mm Broadband Subscribers
~1.3mm Broadband Subscribers
687k Fiber Subscribers
59k Fiber Subscribers
MoffetNathanson’s Nick Del Deo, CFA, wrote in a note to clients:
During its Q1 earnings call, Lumen made clear that it was actively looking to optimize its portfolio and was open to asset sales. Moreover, it indicated that share repurchases might be under consideration if the stock price remained at what the company believes to be depressed levels. The company delivered on both fronts.
Last week, Lumen announced it had agreed to sell its Latin American unit to Stonepeak for $2.7B at a ~9x EBITDA multiple.
Not content with one deal, today it announced another to sell about one quarter if its ILEC business to Apollo for $7.5B at a ~5.5x EBITDA headline multiple. And it announced that its Board has approved a $1B share repurchase program that management may use opportunistically over the next two years.
Lumen secured a solid price for the ILEC assets that it is selling to Apollo. However, when considered in tandem with the LatAm deal, they are unlikely to be materially de-levering.
Lumen Technologies, formerly CenturyLink, has identified Microsoft Azure as its preferred public cloud service provider for enterprise customers’ workloads, and will incorporate additional enterprise application capabilities from Azure to Lumen’s wireline telco platform. Microsoft has in turn named Lumen a preferred partner that will support Azure globally via Lumen’s networking, infrastructure and managed services.
Mutual customers will benefit from being able to run their Microsoft-based solutions closer to where digital interactions are occurring using the global Edge Computing services of Lumen, creating one of the fastest, most secure platforms for applications and data.
“Working with Microsoft, Lumen will offer businesses and developers capabilities at the edge that are unique in the industry,” said Shaun Andrews, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Lumen. “By deeply integrating more of our platform services with Microsoft Azure, we can help businesses quickly utilize their data for the insights they want and need, with the ability to support unique and customized use cases. We’re excited about the innovations and amazing new digital experiences we can enable for our mutual customers by extending Azure to the edge of our global network.”
Following this week’s Verizon-AWS announcement on Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC), T-Mobile US has entered the mobile edge computing business using wireline carrier Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) as its initial preferred vendor.
T-Mobile US has taken a decidedly different MEC approach compared to its two domestic rivals (Verizon and AT&T). The U.S.’s #2 wireless network operator effectively views the edge as a latter opportunity that doesn’t merit a large initial investment. Its edge computing initiatives are exclusively focused on businesses and government agencies that fall under Lumen’s enterprise unit and T-Mobile for business.
“By pairing America’s largest and fastest 5G network with Lumen’s enterprise solutions, we can break down industry barriers and deliver unparalleled network reach to enterprise and government organizations looking to optimize their applications across networks,” Mike Katz, EVP for T-Mobile for Business, said in a prepared statement. “With our leading 5G network, Lumen and T-Mobile have the opportunity to accelerate business innovation in an era where the network is more critical than ever,” Katz added,
Enterprise applications will likely benefit from Lumen’s hundreds of thousands of fiber connected enterprise locations paired with T-Mobile’s “largest and fastest 5G network.”
“The Lumen platform, with 60 plus planned edge market nodes distributed on our high-capacity global fiber network enables application designs with latency of 5 milliseconds or less between the workload and the endpoint device,” wrote David Shacochis, VP of enterprise technology and field CTO at Lumen.
“Lumen’s fiber reach and edge computing resources can augment business solutions for T-Mobile customers, and private wireless solutions can augment business solutions for Lumen customers,” Shacochis added.
“The companies envision starting with metropolitan areas where they are already well connected, and expanding their joint go-to-market over time,” Shacochis wrote, adding that more details about commercial availability and services will be shared throughout 2021.
These efforts aim to address the pressing needs of enterprises to transform their networks to meet the data-intensive challenges across a variety of industries and use cases. Both companies will also continue to drive innovation in this space through T-Mobile’s labs and Tech Experience Center and the Lumen Edge Experience Center.
“Our relationship with T-Mobile aims to introduce a powerful trifecta – access to national 5G wireless and fiber connectivity, managed services across a range of technologies and edge computing resources,” said Shaun Andrews, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Lumen Technologies. “T-Mobile’s expansive 5G footprint coupled with our extensive edge computing platform would provide enterprise developers with the best of both worlds to power the next wave of digital business.”
- For a current list of Lumen live and planned edge locations, visit: https://www.lumen.com/en-us/solutions/edge-computing.html#edge-computing-map
- The Lumen low latency network is comprised of approximately 450,000 global route miles of fiber and more than 180,000 on-net buildings, seamlessly connected to:
- 2,200 public and private third-party data centers in North America, Europe & Middle East, Latin America, and Asia Pacific
- Leading public cloud service providers including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute & Azure Government, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud and Oracle Cloud
T-Mobile’s partnership with Lumen is likely just the beginning. “As in all things with 5G, I think a lot of our efforts have to be done through partnerships,” said John Saw, EVP of advanced and emerging technologies at T-Mobile. Apparently, the network operator will form partnerships with many of the big vendors in the space, including hyperscalers (Google, Amazon, Microsoft), and other specialized mobile edge computing vendors.
Similarly, Shacochis said Lumen is also “open to and looking at” other partnerships in the wireless space. Lumen executives outlined a plan to offer edge compute services in August 2019. The company deployed its first block of edge nodes and obtained its first customer in Q3-2020, before formally launching its edge platform in December 2020.
Building on cloud partnerships with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Lumen bolstered its edge capabilities through additional deals with VMware and IBM.
Ed Morche, president of strategic enterprise and government markets at Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) was interviewed by Citi’s Mike Rollins at the Citi 2021 Global TMT West Virtual Conference. Mr. Morche said that Lumen will offer a wavelength topology tool in beta over the coming weeks in order to help its enterprise customers work in a more seamless fashion. The company’s top priority was to constantly improve the customer experience for enterprises. The focus on customer experience is part of Lumen’s digital first strategy, which includes customers ordering, operating and interacting with Lumen on their own terms.
“So making sure that our products and capabilities are completely digitally enabled so that our customers externally can choose when and how they interact with us,” said Morche when explaining Lumen’s digital first strategy. “They’re not reliant on human interaction. We’re here for them if they want us to be. But for those customers who are more independent, or want to work different hours, or just want to be on their own, (we’re) ensuring that they can do that in a very seamless way. And then internally, that allows for a lot of bureaucracy and optics to move out of the organization and into more creative roles,” he added.
Lumen launched hyper WAN last year, which allows customers to go online to order SD-WAN and MPLS services at the same time with security, hyper DDoS—which allows customers to either work with Lumen’s SoC or order it online— and dynamic capacity without going through Lumen’s sales team.
“Then what we’ll see coming from us in beta in the next couple of weeks is a wave topology tool, which I’m really excited about,” Morche said. “So we operate, I would say the largest network in the world, but I’ll say it here, it’s one of the largest networks in the world, and wavelength is a huge part of what we provide to our customers. So they might interact with us looking to provide their own diversity. They already have a route from somebody else, (but) they want to purchase diversity from us.”
Morche said normally customers would work directly with Lumen’s sales team and a sales engineer on setting up their wavelength topologies.
“There would be a lot of collaboration back and forth, or they may want to build an entire diverse wavelength backbone on their own,” Morche said. “So we have opened up the fabric of our network so our customers can see all the points that they can set up wavelengths, all the different routes between those points, and where we have capacity.”
“The customer says ‘Yes, that’s what I want,’ and we authorize that. It flows through into delivery and into assurance. So that tool, from the very beginning of customer interaction, collaborating with us using our network, but not necessarily our people, flows all the way through as an ‘as built’ to the very end.”
If a customer loses its diversity, Morche said Lumen automatically creates a trouble ticket and starts working on the problem as it notifies the customer. “That automatic auditing of capability, that intelligent networking, that unearthing of capability and network is so important to improving customer experience,” Morche said. “So that’s really the first thing that we’re focused on.”
Chris Wallendal wrote in a Seeking Alpha column: “Lumen is investing in new capabilities and services to target the large client International and Global Accounts Management (“IGAM”) and Enterprise segments with their extensive networks. The Small and Medium Business (“SMB”) segment is challenged for growth by a large portion of legacy voice services, while the wholesale segment is volatile and faces commodity like competitive pressures. The Consumer segment is still working off no longer supported video and legacy wireline services, but its largest revenue comes from broadband services which is showing growth from demand for high bandwidth (>100Mbps) customers.”