Level 3, Corning Get A Little Closer

Keeping ahead of the competition is one of the key reasons for Level 3 Communication
‘s strategic alliance Monday with Corning Inc.

While Level 3 officials are tight-lipped when asked
about particulars of the agreement, it is likely a price break is in the
backbone provider’s future, with Corning committed to
provide 10 million kilometers of fiber optic cable. Additionally, for the
next four years, Corning is the worldwide supplier of Level 3 fiber and cable.

In return, it’s assumed Level 3 will collaborate on performance results and
act as a “testbed” for future releases of Corning’s award-winning LEAF fiber.

Wendell Weeks, Corning optical communications executive vice president,
said the agreement brings the companies together for mutual benefit.

“We regard Level 3 as a premier provider of continuously improving
communications services,” Weeks said. “Our companies will continue to work
together in the development of future fiber technologies to ensure that
Level 3’s customers have the benefits of next-generation fiber
designs. Corning has an aggressive commitment to research and development,
creating fiber and photonic technologies that continuously drive down the
cost of bandwidth.”

LEAF fiber supports multi-channel dense wavelength division multiplexing
(DWDM) systems over a longer distance than normal. This reduces the number
of amplifiers (i.e., money) needed to keep the transmission signal from
degrading on a long-haul traffic line.

Kevin O’Hara, Level 3 president and chief operating officer, said this
translates to bigger savings for Level 3 customers.

“I’m extremely pleased to announce this groundbreaking strategic alliance
between our two companies,” O’Hara said. “We view Corning as a premier
manufacturer of optical fiber, cable and photonics. This agreement means
our customers will receive the benefits of continuous technical innovation
and receive the cost advantages new generations of fiber promise to bring.

“The price performance of network technologies is improving at a remarkable
rate,” O’Hara continued. “This agreement underscores Level 3’s commitment
to work closely with both our key technology suppliers and customers in
order to stay ahead of the technology curve.”

The agreement expands the relationship the two companies have shared for
nearly two years now. Last month, the backbone provider was the first to
sign with Corning and its latest incarnation of LEAF, buying two million
kilometers of the third-generation fiber, due out early next year.

Level 3 does well to attach itself to Corning’s rising star. The fiber
company announced its third quarter results with earnings at $317 million,
more than doubling its third quarter results of last year.

The company credits a strong demand for high-data-rate optical fiber and
cable, amplifiers and its flat-panel display glass. Corning also thinks
Wall Street is conservative, and predicted a nearly 70 percent earnings
growth for 2001.

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