2017-05-20 / Front Page

Tight lips on telecom mergers

Corporate officials remain mum on major telecommunications industry mergers that could cause significant job losses at two Coudersport employers.

Last year, CenturyLink reached a deal to buy Level 3 Communications for $19.4 billion – not including debt -- in a deal that’s forecasted to close by September 2017. Company officials have remained tight-lipped on the impact at Level 3’s Coudersport operations in the former Adelphia Business Solutions/King Windows facility.

Neither company has addressed the potential impact of integration issues presented by overlapping sales and service forces, redundant technology, changing incentives, and new management.

Meanwhile, Charter Communications took over the massive, opulent Time Warner Cable Data Center in Coudersport when its acquisition of TWC was completed last fall. The future of the center and its employees remains uncertain, but an exodus is underway.

Last week, the CenturyLink/Level 3 Communications merger came under fire from two consumer advocacy groups. They described the deal as potentially monopolistic, stifling competition in the wireless and internet service industries.

Level 3 provides one of the largest internet backbones in the world and is the leading U.S. fiber-optic network service provider.

Completion of the proposed merger will increase CenturyLink’s network by 200,000 route miles of fiber, including 64,000 route miles in 350 metropolitan areas and 33,000 sub-sea route miles connecting multiple continents. CenturyLink’s on-network buildings are expected to increase by nearly 75 percent to approximately 75,000, including 10,000 buildings in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Latin America.

Earlier, two competing providers, Frontier Communications Corporation and Windstream Holdings, accused Level 3 of unfair billing and payment practices. They’re are concerned that the larger merged unit could misuse its broader market power, hampering rural broadband deployment.

In the meantime, CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications move closer to completing their proposed merger amid overwhelming approval of their shareholders. About 96 percent of CenturyLink shareholders and more than 81 percent of Level 3 shareholders gave their nod to the deal.

CenturyLink remains optimistic it will continue to gain state regulatory approvals and complete the deal by the end of third quarter. As of April 1, CenturyLink gained 14 state PUC approvals.

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