Careers at Level 3 Communications
Level 3’s mission is to connect and protect the networked world.
Level 3 is a provider of integrated communications services. The firm operates three reportable business segments: North America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), and Latin America.
In 1979 Walter Scott was made CEO of construction firm Peter Kiewit Sons. Soon executive Jim Crowe joined the firm. The men shared an interest in moving the company, which had diversified interests through Kiewit Diversified Group (KDG), into telecommunications. Scott proceeded to buy Metropolitan Fiber Systems, a producer of fiber optic networks for phone firms, in 1987.
The subsidiary was soon renamed MFS. Crowe used the networks he had already built to make MFS one of the largest competitive local-exchange carriers (CLECs) in the U.S. In 1993, the men decided to spin it off into a separate company and take it public, with Crowe at the helm. Following a meeting of tech executives, they decided to ensure it took advantage of the burgeoning Internet arena.
In 1996, MFS acquired UUNet, an “Internet backbone“ firm involved in the infrastructure of the online world. At $2 billion, the price was the highest total paid for an Internet-based company at the time. A few months later WorldCom, sensing the new venture would represent a competitive threat, made an offer to acquire MFS. It was accepted and the transaction closed by the end of the year.
Despite the sale, Scott and Crowe still had a strong desire to launch a business in the industry. Specifically, they wanted to establish a company similar to MFS. However, instead of focusing on conventional circuit-switch networks, it would build a fiber-optic-only network based on Internet protocol. Crowe began exploring the venture through KDG, with the help of former MFS execs.
Crowe sold off KDG’s non-telecommunications-related assets and spun it off as a separate firm. He used the funds to build a large, expensive fiber-optic network. He then changed KDG’s name to Level 3 Communications in 1998. The name referred to the seven-layer Open Systems Interconnect network model -- a framework for global standards in computer network architecture.
Crowe and his team focused on the three lowest layers of this model – the physical fiber, the optical layer, and the network layer. In Spring, Level 3 began to trade on the NASDAQ. Crowe‘s objective was to create a worldwide network, which would start with building a network in North America. When finished, it would have built-in flexibility and enable easy upgrades incorporating new advances.
The task was extremely difficult, but the company dove into it by obtaining rights of way from railroad firms and ordering mass digging of trenches and laying of cable. It even moved its headquarters from Omaha, Nebraska to Colorado to receive access to a larger supply of qualified engineers. Within 30 months it finished its first section, a 16,000-mile network across the U.S.
Level 3 completed the North American network over the next few years and began expanding worldwide by acquiring numerous other companies during the 2000s; these included competitors Broadwing, WilTel, Progress Telecom, Telcove, and ICG Communications. In 2011 it began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2016 it announced it had agreed to be acquired by CenturyLink.
Business model of Level 3 Communications
Level 3 has a segmented market business model, with customer groups that have slightly different needs. The company targets its offerings at enterprise, government, and carrier customers.
Level 3 offers four primary value propositions: accessibility, innovation, risk reduction, and brand/status.
The company creates accessibility by providing a wide variety of options. Its comprehensive portfolio includes fiber and infrastructure solutions; IP-based voice and data communications; wide-area Ethernet services; video and content distribution; and data center and cloud-based solutions. This wide range of services enables it to provide an end-to-end offering.
The company has embraced innovation throughout its history. Its groundbreaking efforts include:
- Being the first communications service provider to introduce a global MPLS network
- Being the first global provider with IPV6 natively deployed
- Being the first provider to introduce VoIP and MPLS
- Being the first provider to implement a converged IP solution
The company reduces risk by maintaining high safety and security standards. It operates phone and e-mail hotlines through which customers can report telephone abuse. Reported incidents are addressed by a dedicated Call Annoyance team. Level 3 also operates a Compliance Line, a phone line through which its employees can report suspected violations of standards or policies by the firm. It also strongly encourages workers to discuss such issues with its Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer.
The company has established a powerful brand due to its success. It is the largest competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) and the third largest provider of fiber-optic Internet access in the U.S. Its services platform features metro assets that reach over 500 markets in over 60 countries worldwide. These countries are located in North America, Europe, Latin America, and select Asian cities.
Level 3’s main channel is its direct sales team, which operates worldwide. It also sells its offerings through third-party sales agents. The company promotes its offering through its website, social media pages, and participation in conferences.
Level 3’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service nature. Customers utilize its services while having limited interaction with employees. The company’s website features a “Resources Library” that includes useful resources such as white papers, case studies, user guides, infographics, eBooks, information guides, and videos. That said, there is a personal assistance component in the form of phone and e-mail support.
Level 3’s business model entails designing, developing, and delivering its services to customers.
Level 3 maintains key partnerships with the suppliers that provide it with the equipment and services it needs to manage its operations. The suppliers must provide new and scalable technology.
The company also maintains important alliances with the following types of partners:
- Channel Partners – Includes value-added resellers, systems integrators, and managed service providers with master and sub-agent agreements that sell the company’s services on their own
- Solution Providers – Includes value-added resellers, systems integrators, and managed service providers that work directly with Level 3 sales teams to sell the company’s services
- Alliances Partners – Includes cloud, data center, security, and UC&C providers that work with the company to develop joint, complete solutions to offer its customers
- Referral Partners – Includes eligible companies and individuals that help promote the company’s offerings by referring business leads in exchange for a commission
Partners are provided with a portfolio of IP, VoIP, and transport services. They are also given access to the Business Partner Portal, which offers resources such as forms and training/marketing tools.
Level 3’s main resources are its physical resources, namely its communications network. The network includes the following as of December 2015:
- 106,000 intercity route miles in North America, Europe, and Latin America
- Metropolitan fiber networks in 350 markets containing approximately 67,000 route miles
- Eight million square feet of Gateway and transmission facilities in North America, Europe, and Latin America
- Over 360 co-location and data center facilities worldwide
- 33,000 route miles of subsea optical fiber cable systems
Level 3 places a high priority on its intellectual property, which includes over 1,000 patents and patent applications in the U.S. and around the world. The patent portfolio covers technologies ranging from voice and data services to content distribution to networking and transmission equipment. Lastly, Level 3 has important human resources in the form of engineers and customer service personnel.
Level 3 has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through significant automation and low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is network access costs. Other major drivers are network-related expenses, sales/marketing expenses, and administration costs.
Level 3 has one revenue stream: revenues generated from the monthly fees it collects from customers for the services it provides.
info: He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics and Mathematics at the Northeastern State University and a Master’s degree in Telecommunications Systems at Southern Methodist University. He previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Level 3.
info: He earned a Bachelor’s degree at William Marsh Rice University. He previously served as Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer of Looking Glass Networks and as Treasurer of MCI WorldCom and MFS Communications.
info: He earned a B.S. in Marketing at Drexel University, an MBA at the University of New Haven, and an M.S. in Management at MIT. He previously served as Chief Technology and Information Officer and Chief Marketing Officer of Global Crossing.
info: He earned a B.S. degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Colorado and an M.S. Degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Michigan. He previously held leadership roles at MCI WorldCom and AT&T Bell Labs.
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