RealTime IT News

Let the Circle Be Unbroken

Colorado-based Level 3 Communications, Inc. Friday finished its first fiber ring around Europe.

The 1,900-mile first ring features 10-12 conduits connecting Level 3 data centers in London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris and Brussels.

The company anticipates it will complete construction of its second European network, connecting Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Berlin and Munich, before the end of the year.

Each of Level 3's European networks will be connected to the company's 16,000-mile U.S. network through a 1.28 terabit transatlantic cable connection. Level 3 contends that its big pipe across the big pond will be a major force behind the deployment of broadband access throughout the region.

Lee Jobe, Level 3 president of global operations said with the completion of the first ring in Europe, the firm has completed more than 90 percent of it inter-city conduit installation plan in North America and Europe.

He added that Level 3 deftly designed its European networks to be continuously upgradeable. Jobe said the entire fiber network was build with multiple conduits, which allows Level 3 to quickly leverage fiber optic technological advances.

"Level 3 designed its multi-conduit network so it can install new generations of fiber more quickly and at lower incremental cost than traditional networks can," Jobe said. "This approach enables us to further solidify our industry-leading unit cost advantage for bandwidth services."

As new optical fiber technology is introduced in the market, Level 3 is capable of installing an upgrade through one of the company's empty conduits, rather than having to reconstruct the network from the ground up, like incumbent carriers tend to do.

Colin Williams, Level 3 executive vice president, said the company has broken new frontiers in deploying the first large, multi-conduit independent infrastructure-based network in Europe.

"The Level 3 network will play a major role in enabling the development of the new Internet economy in Europe," Williams said.

"We expect to be able to drive down communications costs substantially," William added. "By removing the current cost constraints of transporting information in Europe, Level 3 will drive both demand for communications services and new applications in the region."

Level 3's European fiber optic network plans to market its data, video, and voice transport capabilities to Internet service providers, application service providers, and communications companies.

Industry analysts have great expectations for the deployment of broadband connectivity to Europe. Forrester Research, Inc. predicts that 27 Million Europeans will have broadband Internet access in five years.

Forrester research indicated that only 2 percent of European households had broadband Internet access in 1999, but as regulatory barriers drop, analysts predicts that increased competition will drive broadband growth in the region.

While cable access providers and regional government sanctioned telecom firms will scramble to get their piece of the market, companies like Level 3 will permit independent ISPs to join battle for broadband consumers in Europe.