June 12, 2009
The Wall Street Journal reported that Level 3 and Sprint are in talks. And while a lot of the commentary will be negative, I have to admit I think it is synergistic.
First of all the realities; Level 3 had a head chopping moment about a year ago where good people that were paid reasonably well were cut by pay grade and not by performance.
Some of them have landed elsewhere others are still in transition.
At the time I thought it was positioning the company for acquisition and I thought a customer was already in mind other than Sprint.
Level 3 has had some interesting services based on their customer's needs and between their relationships with Amazon and its cloud network and Akamai and others in the video world they were finding new uses for the network that were valuable.
On the VoIP voice side, as a supplier they were pretty firm with their pricing models and while I considered them too pricey for some of the stuff I was asking them. However, combined with the 911 support services they were offering many retail VoIP solutions found them useful.
Sprint likewise found a niche in supporting the cable operators as they need transport of telecom traffic and some form of triple play services. Of course the major goal was not to work with Sprint but not to work with the incumbent which helped justify the separation from the ILEC (now called Embarq).
Dan Hesse was at Embarq before coming back into the Sprint fold and he has successfully managed the finishing touches on the Clearwire strategy. (Has anyone noticed that the Palm Pre supports WiMAX?).
Some of the commentary has been negative on a 51% newco strategy that would take assets from Level3 and Sprint. Remember Wholesale LD requires volume, so combined they may move into the second position for wholesale minutes. Personally, if Sprint finds a way to be the Berkshire Hathaway of Telecom, more power to them.