CenturyLink Implements Ambitious Strategy to Compete with the World’s Largest Carriers

R. Bhattacharyya

Summary Bullets:

  • CenturyLink has ambitious plans to leverage its newly acquired assets and establish itself as a formidable player in the global arena.
  • Not only is the service provider targeting North American organizations with international connectivity requirements; it is also pursuing multinationals headquartered overseas, a move that sets it apart from some of its peers.

There is no shortage of service providers that have looked to broaden their footprints and establish themselves as global carriers. Some have been more successful than others, and several have come and gone. Many, such as AT&T, have chosen to follow their customers, providing connectivity to meet the international requirements of their largest customers. Few have been aggressive enough to go after organizations headquartered outside of their home territories. CenturyLink is positioning itself to join the latter group, and with cash to spend, the service provider can afford to make some sizeable investments.

During its annual Analyst Forum, held September 11 – 13 in Southern California, CenturyLink detailed its international strategy. The company plans to make good use of the assets it acquired from its purchase of Level 3 last fall, especially the global network. While CenturyLink did have some overseas assets prior to the acquisition, they pale in comparison to the international footprint Level 3 brought to the table. The combined company now has approximately 360,000 leased and owned international transport miles.

The new CenturyLink spent much of last year on acquisition-related activities: it merged customer-facing account teams, integrated network assets, identified lead solution offerings, and outlined product roadmaps. These efforts are the foundation upon which it is building its overarching global strategy, which is to provide customers with a seamless, differentiated, and globally consistent experience. And that is no small task.

Spearheading its global ambitions is CenturyLink’s International and Global Account Management (IGAM) team, one of its four enterprise business units. IGAM is responsible for more than 8,000 customers and brings in upward of $3.7 billion in revenue. A team of 4,000 employees (dispersed across 35 countries and conducting business in 25 languages) supports CenturyLink’s IGAM customer base. The international business is segmented into three regions: Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); Asia-Pacific (APAC), and Latin American (LATAM).


CenturyLink boasts over 32,000 intercity route-miles and 4,500 metro route-miles of connectivity in the region. It has more than 2,000 buildings on-net and over 350 connected data centers. The service provider employs 1,800 professionals in EMEA and has a presence in 30 countries. Initiatives appear to be paying off, as CenturyLink has acquired 100+ new logos in EMEA this year to date. CenturyLink isn’t only pursuing organizations based in the U.S. that have a presence overseas; it is also targeting companies based in EMEA.


Despite difficult economic circumstances, CenturyLink continues to target the Latin American region. It has more than 1,800 employees in the region, as well as a presence in over 20 countries, and connects at least 350 cities. CenturyLink boasts over 16,000 intercity and metro route-miles and 18 certified data centers and colocation facilities. Similar to its strategy for EMEA, CenturyLink is providing connectivity for businesses headquartered across the globe that need connectivity into LATAM, as well as targeting organizations based in the region.


CenturyLink has more than 2,000 employees in APAC and an on-net presence in 17 markets in 12 countries. It operates metro rings in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore and plans to expand into Osaka. CenturyLink’s sales presence is concentrated in six strategic markets: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Singapore.

CenturyLink offers a strong value proposition to companies in need of a trusted global connectivity provider. Looking ahead, one of CenturyLink’s biggest challenges will be to build global brand awareness. Global Crossing and Level 3 enjoyed strong brand recognition, particularly as providers of high-bandwidth connectivity. CenturyLink’s brand isn’t as well established overseas; therefore, investing to build awareness around the CenturyLink name would be funds wisely spent.

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