Qwest, CenturyLink finalize merger

Companies have 75,000 miles of combined local fiber

CenturyLink completed its acquisition of Qwest today, just under a year after the two companies announced plans to merge.

CenturyLink, which paid $12.2 billion for Qwest in an all-stock transaction, will now be the third-largest telecom company in the United States with 15.4 million access lines and service in 37 different states. Chris Ancell, the president of CenturyLink's Business Markets Group, says that CenturyLink and Qwest have a combined 145,000 miles of local fiber, or more than double the 70,000 miles of fiber that CenturyLink had before the merger. He says that this will provide greater access around the country to Qwest's backbone, which has around 30,000 miles of fiber. In all, the company's combined fiber network will cover an estimated 190,000 miles throughout the United States.

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Combining the two companies' network assets will give it a significant presence throughout most of the United States. Denver-based Qwest has made its name as a voice and data carrier with a significant presence in the Rocky Mountain region and in the northern Midwest United States, as well as in Southwest states such as Arizona and New Mexico. CenturyLink, which is based in Louisiana, has specialized in offering services in the South, the eastern half of the Midwest region and in West Coast states Washington and Oregon.

CenturyLink will also benefit from Qwest's big investment to upgrade its entire Ethernet backbone to 100Gbps, as the company said today that it was due to finish the upgrade "soon" to help businesses to run more high-bandwidth applications. 100G networks are seen by many as a logical progression from the current standard of 10G Ethernet. In 2006, the IEEE's Higher Speed Study Group (HSSG) voted to pursue 100G Ethernet as its next major Ethernet standard.

CenturyLink is a broadband, voice and wireless services provider that is also known for popular video services such as CenturyLink Prisim TV and DIRECTV. Qwest says that the merger with CenturyLink won't impact its agreement with Verizon that gives Qwest customers access to Verizon's wireless voice and data services, as well as all handsets available on the Verizon network.

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