Across The Telecom Spectrum: 6 Moves Making Waves In The Channel

Telecoms Shrinking And Expanding

One presidential hopeful got involved in the telecom action in April, as the month ushered in an employee strike, new cloud services, and ever-expanding fiber footprints from some of the major carriers. At the same time, consolidation among some of the largest telecom providers has kept the channel on its toes this month as the carrier footprint across the U.S. continues to evolve.

Here's a sampling of six telecom and service provider news and moves that happened in April.

Charter Communications Officially Cleared To Acquire Time warner Cable

After an 11-month wait, Charter Communications officially received approval from the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission to acquire Time Warner Cable for $78 billion. Charter will have to abide by several conditions to close the deal. The FCC is banning the company from imposing contractual restrictions on streaming video providers, and is also prohibiting Charter from using data caps.

The deal and its conditions are still subject to court approval.

In a related deal, Charter was also cleared to acquire Syracuse, N.Y.-based cable provider Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion. The three companies will form "New Charter," the second-largest broadband provider and the third-largest cable provider in the U.S.

Verizon To Come To Boston, Presidential Candidate Tussles With Telecom

Telecom behemoth Verizon unveiled plans to expand its fiber-based Fios network into Boston neighborhoods this month. While the build-out will take place over the next six years, initial builds will begin this summer in specific neighborhoods and services will launch in early 2017, the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based company said.

Verizon will compete with Philadelphia-based Comcast and Princeton, N.J.-based RCN in the greater Boston area.

One day after the Boston announcement, nearly 40,000 of the provider's employees went on strike after new union contracts couldn't be agreed upon by the imposed deadline. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has actively thrown his support behind Verizon employees by speaking at two rallies and openly criticizing Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam.

The involvement of the Vermont senator may prolong the strike, financial analysts say. The Verizon strike is still ongoing at this time.

Centurylink Cloud Available Now In Australia

Monroe, La.-based telecommunications provider CenturyLink unveiled a new cloud node in Sydney, Australia, and the provider is now partnering with Phoenix-based technology distribution provider Avnet to expand CenturyLink Cloud across the Asia-Pacific region. The cloud offering is now available in Australia about a year after CenturyLink Cloud was launched in Singapore.

Avnet is the first distributor for CenturyLink Cloud in Australia. Via the terms of the partnership, Avnet and its partners can resell white-label cloud products from CenturyLink. The distributor will provide segregated billing, client account management, and reporting through the Avnet cloud portal.

Birch Communications Expands Fiber Footprint

IP communications provider Birch Communications aggressively built out its Metro-Fiber service, BirchLink. The Atlanta-based provider said it has lit up an additional 130,000 new buildings across its 32,000-route-mile network with 715 points of presence in North America.

Birch Communications serves fiber, network and cloud-based offerings to small, midmarket, enterprise and wholesale business customers. The expansion allows the provider to reach more than 550,000 buildings across 65 markets. Birch said it would reach 1,000,000 buildings this year.

BT Bakes More Security Into Its Network

London-based communication service provider BT is plugging access points from security vendor Zscaler into its global network for better application performance over secure Internet connections.

Zscaler's access points will act as a series of traffic checkpoints between businesses and the public Internet to identify and block potential threats, according to BT. The new service, Assure Managed Cloud with Zscaler, will provide real-time protection by scanning and filtering all network traffic, including SSL-encrypted sessions, the provider said.

The new service, which will come at no additional cost to customers, will be available in Europe first, followed by extension of the service to the Americas and Asia-Pacific.