CenturyLink maintains top spot on Ethernet leaderboard in 2018

15 February 2019 | James Pearce

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CenturyLink has topped the 2018 US carrier Ethernet leaderboard, growing its port base by 12%, according to figures from Vertical Systems Group.

Louisiana-based CenturyLink came top of the 2017 board, in part because of an increased number of Ethernet ports due to its $34 billion merger with Level 3 Communications, completed in 2017. Prior to this, AT&T was top.

According to Vertical’s latest listing, AT&T was second, while Verizon came third. Spectrum Enterprise, Comcast, and Windstream round out the top six.

To qualify on Vertical’s leaderboard, network providers must have at least 4% of the US Ethernet services market, with the share measured by the number of billable retail customer ports in service.

Those who don’t meet the 4% criteria fall into other tiers, such as the Challenger tier, which accounts for providers with between 1% and 4% of the total market. Cox, which made the half-year leaderboard, fell into this category, alongside the likes of Altice USA, Cogent, Frontier, GTT, Sprint and Zayo (in alphabetical order).

The tier below this, which Vertical Systems calls the Market Player tier, includes all providers with a port share below the 1% threshold. This list is substantially longer, but notable companies with a presence here include BT Global Services, Global Cloud Xchange, NTT America, Orange Business, Tata and Telstra.

Overall, US retail Ethernet installations grew to more than 1.1 million ports in 2018, up 12% on the previous year. The two Cable MSOs (Spectrum Enterprise and Comcast) present on the leaderboard had the highest port growth in the second half of 2018.

According to Vertical Systems Group, Ethernet pricing fell in 2018 across all port seeds for the six service types it tracks (EPL, EVPL, DIA, Access to VPN, Switched Metro and VPLS).

"Despite its relative maturity, the Ethernet market continues to expand at a healthy pace. U.S. port installations grew more than twelve percent in 2018, in line with our forecasts," said Rick Malone, principal of Vertical Systems Group. "However, revenue growth is not keeping pace with port growth due to falling prices and changing service mixes. One notable catalyst is the deployment of SD-WAN, which is resulting in customers shifting from switched Ethernet services to dedicated Internet access."