23 February 2018
| Jason Mcgee-Abe
CenturyLink has captured the number one spot on Vertical Systems Group’s latest leaderboard of US Ethernet market-leaders.
It is the first time a provider
other than AT&T has led the benchmark ranking since 2005.
Seven companies achieved leaderboard status for 2017 (in rank
order based on retail port share): CenturyLink, AT&T,
Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Comcast, Windstream and Cox.
CenturyLink's advance was driven by its $34 billion November merger with Level 3,
along with continued growth in Ethernet ports for both
companies. Previously, Level 3 ranked second to AT&T and
CenturyLink ranked fifth on the mid-2017 US Ethernet
To qualify for the leaderboard, network providers must have
4% or more of the US Ethernet services market. Shares are
measured by the number of billable retail customer ports in
service as tracked by Vertical Systems Group.
"In addition to the shakeup at the top of the leaderboard,
US Ethernet installations exceeded the milestone of one million
ports in 2017," said Rick Malone, principal of Vertical Systems
"Overall, the fastest growing Ethernet deployments were
driven by higher speed cloud connectivity and IP VPN access.
Service providers cite price compression as a continuing
challenge, as well as delayed network purchase decisions due to
• The US retail Ethernet port base grew 13% in 2017 and
finished the year with more than one million ports.
• Seven Ethernet providers qualified for the 2017
leaderboard, as compared to nine in 2016. The two company exits
were XO (acquired by Verizon) and Level 3 (merged with
CenturyLink). As a result, the US leaderboard has no companies
from the competitive Provider segment for the first time.
• Four incumbent carriers (CenturyLink, AT&T,
Verizon, Windstream) and three cable MSOs (Spectrum Enterprise,
Comcast, Cox) are represented on the latest leaderboard.
• Comcast had the highest organic growth of the
leaderboard companies in 2017, growing its base of Ethernet
ports appreciably without an acquisition.
• Six Ethernet providers qualified for the 2017
challenge tier, as compared to four in 2016. New entrants
Frontier and GTT moved up into the challenge tier from the
market player tier based in part on acquisitions of Ethernet
assets. These companies join Altice USA, Cogent, Sprint and
• Each of the seven leaderboard companies has attained
MEF CE 2.0 Ethernet services certification, and each employs
MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professionals (MEF-CECPs).
Spectrum Enterprise leads with more than 800 MEF-CECPs,
followed by CenturyLink with greater than 500. Companies on the
US Ethernet leaderboard plus challenge tier employ more than
one-third of the 5,500+ MEF-CECPs worldwide.
In addition to the roster of providers’
leaderboard, all other companies selling Ethernet services in
the U.S. are segmented into two tiers as measured by port
share. The first or Challenge Tier includes providers with
between 1% and 4% share of the U.S. retail Ethernet market. For
year-end 2017, the following six companies attained a position
in the challenge tier (in alphabetical order): Altice USA,
Cogent, Frontier, GTT, Sprint and Zayo.
The second or market player tier includes all providers with
port share below 1%. Companies in the market player tier
include the following providers: Alaska Communications, Alpheus
Communications, American Telesis, Birch Communications, BT
Global Services, Cincinnati Bell, Consolidated Communications,
Crowne Castle, DQE Communications, Expedient, FiberLight,
FirstLight, Global Cloud Xchange, Great Plains Communications,
Hawaiian Telecom, Logix Fiber Networks, LS Networks, Lumos
Networks, Masergy, MegaPath, Midco, NTT America, Orange
Business, RCN Business, Tata, TDS Telecom, Telstra, TPx
Communications, Unite Private Networks, US Signal, WOW!Business
and other companies selling retail Ethernet services in the US
Vertical Systems Group,