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CenturyLink: Net Neutrality, Municipal Broadband Orders Hurt Innovation

WASHINGTON – The following statements on today’s Federal Communications Commission votes are from CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Executive Vice President for Public Policy and Government Relations Steve Davis:

“Taken together, the FCC’s net neutrality and municipal broadband pre-emption orders will make it harder for broadband providers to deploy fiber in their networks and offer the higher speeds and better performance levels customers demand. The end result of these new regulations is that Internet innovation and investment will suffer.”

Net neutrality order:

“CenturyLink is very concerned about the impact of regulating the Internet as a utility under a 1930s regulatory regime that has no place in the 21st century economy. We agree with the basic principles of an open Internet and believe the FCC could have prohibited the blocking or degrading of lawful content—something CenturyLink has never done—without stifling innovation. We look forward to working with Congress to pass net neutrality legislation that protects consumers and doesn’t smother the growth engine of our economy with obsolete regulations.”

Municipal broadband pre-emption order:

“CenturyLink is disappointed that the FCC has decided to grant the municipal broadband pre-emption petitions and substitute its judgment for that of states and localities on how to best allocate limited taxpayer dollars. We believe the best approach is for municipalities to explore workable partnerships with existing Internet service providers. We applaud efforts by members of Congress, including legislation introduced today by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, to preserve state and local laws that protect taxpayers from municipal broadband failures. CenturyLink will continue to work closely with communities, local leaders and Congress on creative public-private partnerships that bring high-speed Internet services to more American homes and businesses.”

CenturyLink Urges Congress to Update Communications Act, Reform Retransmission Consent Rules

CenturyLink submitted comments today commending the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for reviewing the current laws governing the market for video content distribution as part of the committee’s efforts to update and modernize our nation’s telecommunications laws.

Over the past five years, CenturyLink has begun offering video competition and programming options through the launch of its Prism™ TV service to approximately 2 million homes in a dozen markets. The company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in deploying high-speed broadband services to support its IPTV digital video product.

In the markets where it is available, Prism™ TV provides significant competition and consumer choice, generally offering the only facilities-based alternative to incumbent cable operators for the bundles of video, broadband, and voice that consumers increasingly demand.

However, consumers are feeling the impact of rising content costs through increased prices and surcharges on their cable bills. The rapid rise in the cost of content – in particular, the steadily rising fees that CenturyLink must pay for retransmission of local broadcasting signals – threatens CenturyLink’s ability to provide competitive video services.

We urge Congress to reform the 1992 Cable Act to permit new video market entrants to compete on a more equitable basis and to require greater transparency in the prices, terms and conditions of content agreements. Broadcasters currently have little incentive to offer fair and reasonable terms to new entrants, which effectively deprives consumers of the benefits of competition.

CenturyLink believes the Cable Act should be amended to give providers the right to carry national programming from an adjacent or alternate market during a breakdown in retransmission consent negotiations, thus preserving competition and protecting consumers from programming blackouts. Consumers benefit from more choices and more competition, not less.

CenturyLink Statement On President Obama’s Remarks In Cedar Falls

WASHINGTON – CenturyLink released the following statement regarding President Obama’s remarks about municipal broadband in Cedar Falls, Iowa:

“CenturyLink invests hundreds of millions of dollars a year to bring high-speed broadband to millions of Americans. Consumers benefit from this investment and from marketplace competition. CenturyLink customers can get speeds up to 1 gigabit per second in 16 cities around the country. In Iowa alone, CenturyLink’s investment of more than $2.5 billion to date allows many Eastern and Central Iowa residents to receive speeds up to 100 megabits per second. However, we believe government-owned broadband networks are not a good use of limited tax dollars due to their high failure rates.

We are in a dynamic and rapidly changing telecommunications environment that will continue to provide creative and unique partnership opportunities for providers and consumers. CenturyLink will continue to work closely with our communities, listen carefully and take a solutions-based approach to addressing broadband, voice and data-hosting needs. We believe the majority of municipalities understand the challenges and costs of operating high-speed networks long term and are looking for efficient solutions that will benefit consumers and lower the costs of obtaining rights of way and deploying networks at the local level.”

About CenturyLink

CenturyLink is the third largest telecommunications company in the United States and is recognized as a leader in the network services market by technology industry analyst firms. The company is a global leader in cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions for enterprise customers. CenturyLink provides data, voice and managed services in local, national and select international markets through its high-quality advanced fiber optic network and multiple data centers for businesses and consumers. The company also offers advanced entertainment services under the CenturyLink® Prism™ TV and DIRECTV brands. Headquartered in Monroe, La., CenturyLink is an S&P 500 company and is included among the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations. For more information, visit www.centurylink.com.


CenturyLink Applauds Internet Tax Freedom Act Extension

President Obama today signed into law legislation that extends the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA).

“CenturyLink commends Congress for passing and the president for signing legislation that protects consumers and businesses from new taxes on Internet access through Oct. 1, 2015,” said CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Vice President for Federal Legislative Affairs David Bartlett. “And, we encourage lawmakers to continue working toward a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would provide lasting protection from the hundreds of individual tax jurisdictions around the country that are poised to levy new taxes on Internet use. Permanent extension of the ITFA would help create the kind of marketplace certainty that encourages broadband adoption and network investment. We look forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to pass a permanent fix in the next Congress.”

ITFA is a temporary tax moratorium that has been extended several times since it was first signed into law in 1998. Legislation that would permanently extend ITFA was introduced in the 113th Congress by U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).

For more information, please see a previous public policy blog post on ITFA entitled, CenturyLink Joins Coalition To Prevent Government From Taxing Internet Access.



CenturyLink Comments On Connect America Fund Phase II Order

The FCC adopted an order finalizing Phase II of the Connect America Fund today.

“CenturyLink is pleased that the FCC has updated the federal Universal Service Fund and begun implementing Phase II of the Connect America Fund program,” CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Executive Vice President for Public Policy and Government Relations Steve Davis. “We may soon be able to bring high-speed Internet service to many rural customers who lack broadband today. However, it is clear that the effect of the program will be smaller than originally anticipated. In particular, we’re disappointed that after taking more than three years to write this order, the FCC has adopted such a restrictive timeline for the build-out to high-cost areas that we will not be able to build facilities to many of our rural customers. This means that customers in many of the areas that are most difficult to reach will have to wait until the FCC adopts workable auction rules before learning whether or not they will be eligible to receive broadband service.”

CenturyLink Awarded New DHS EINSTEIN 3 Accelerated Task Order

Company to provide cybersecurity services to government agencies

CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) recently was awarded a task order from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications to provide Intrusion Prevention Security Services, known as EINSTEIN 3 Accelerated (E³A) protections, to U.S. federal civilian agencies.

The one-year task order was issued under a four-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for EINSTEIN cybersecurity services that was previously awarded to CenturyLink in March 2013. DHS’s EINSTEIN program uses network traffic patterns indicating known or suspected malicious cyber activity to help participating federal agencies protect their IT systems.

The new task order includes additional managed security services and cybersecurity capabilities that will be integrated into the current CenturyLink E³A service, which is the first E³A intrusion prevention capability to achieve initial operating capability from DHS. The CenturyLink E³A service is also the first fully operational E³A system that is actively providing cybersecurity services to federal civilian agencies’ end-users.

The EINSTEIN program provides advanced email filtering and web Domain Name System spoofing protections, as well as signature-based intrusion detection, prevention and mitigation services to participating federal agencies under the guidance and oversight of DHS.

EINSTEIN capabilities are provided through a combination of commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software, government-developed software, and commercially available managed security services that are enhanced by DHS-provided information.

By supplying E³A cybersecurity services over its carrier-class network, CenturyLink is able to provide federal government agencies with the information security and reliability they need to carry out their missions.

“CenturyLink is proud to be selected to continue providing EINSTEIN cybersecurity protections to federal agencies,” said Lisa Bruch, CenturyLink Government acting senior vice president and general manager. “We’re excited to support DHS’s mission to provide federal agencies with advanced managed cybersecurity capabilities that offer additional protections to mitigate growing and evolving threats. The ability to share valuable cyber intelligence and information with an expanding list of federal agencies supports active awareness of immediate cyber threats and helps us protect and defend our nation’s federal IT systems.”

Bruch recognized Wray Varley, CenturyLink Government area vice president for advanced programs, and John Cassidy, CenturyLink Government branch director for the cybersecurity division, for their work on this program, and explained that the recent E³A task order award highlights a valuable partnership between CenturyLink Government and DHS. “We continue to work together to develop innovative managed cybersecurity services that are scalable and repeatable, and can be implemented quickly and efficiently by many federal civilian departments and agencies,” she said.

CenturyLink is also a fully approved commercial services provider for the DHS Enhanced Cybersecurity Services (ECS) program, which helps government-approved critical infrastructure entities protect their IT systems from unauthorized access, exploitation and data exfiltration.

CenturyLink is ranked No. 42 on Washington Technology’s 2014 Top 100 list of federal government IT contractors.

CenturyLink Applauds New Satellite Television Rules

President Obama signed the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization, known as STELAR, into law today.

“CenturyLink applauds Congress and the president for reauthorizing legislation that will increase investment, innovation, competition and consumer choice in the pay-TV market,” said CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Vice President of Federal Legislative Affairs David Bartlett. “STELAR goes a long way toward making retransmission consent negotiations more fair and balanced, and creates a more competitive pay-TV market for providers and consumers alike, but more video reform is needed.”

Over the past five years, CenturyLink has begun offering video competition and programming options through the launch of its Prism™ TV service to approximately 2 million homes in a dozen markets and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in deploying high-speed broadband services to support its digital video product.

CenturyLink Adds Cloud Data Center Service To Its GSA Networx Contract

Company’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering now available to federal agencies  

CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) recently added its cloud data center service, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service product, to the list of items available to federal government agencies via the General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx Universal contract.

GSA’s Networx program is the largest telecommunications contract vehicle ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink’s cloud data center service, which includes virtual and dedicated platforms and offers a secure multitenant public cloud solution, is now available via the Networx Universal contract as well as GSA’s IT Schedule 70 contract, which is the largest, most widely used acquisition vehicle in the federal government.

CenturyLink’s cloud data center service offers connected public, private and hybrid cloud solutions that support the on-demand computing, storage, platform and application needs of large and small federal agencies. CenturyLink also provides managed security services that enable agile, dependable, scalable and secure IT solutions in the cloud.

By supplying cloud and managed hosting services over its carrier-class network, CenturyLink is able to provide government agencies with the security and reliability they need to carry out their many missions.

“CenturyLink is excited to be able to offer its Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud solution to federal government agencies via the Networx contract,” said Lisa Bruch, CenturyLink Government acting senior vice president and general manager.

CenturyLink is ranked No. 42 on Washington Technology’s 2014 Top 100 list of federal government IT contractors.


CenturyLink Applauds FCC Effort To Update Video Competition Rules

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently proposed to update the video competition rules in an FCC blog post entitled “Tech Transitions, Video and the Future.”

As a relatively new entrant in the pay-TV market, CenturyLink applauds Chairman Wheeler for his effort to level the playing field for access to video programming for all video providers, regardless of their size or the technology they use. This is an important step in the right direction that will increase investment, innovation and competition in the video marketplace and ultimately benefit consumers.

Over the past five years, CenturyLink has begun offering video competition and programming options through the launch of its Prism™ IPTV service to approximately 2 million homes in a dozen markets and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in deploying high-speed broadband services to support its digital video product.

CenturyLink Urges Congress to Update Communications Act, Reform Universal Service Fund

CenturyLink submitted comments today commending the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for its efforts to revisit and revise the Communications Act in light of the significant technological and marketplace changes that have occurred since the law was last updated in 1996. Given these rapid and fundamental market changes, the current law no longer effectively promotes universal access to critical communications services.

We believe that universal service should continue to be a core objective of this country’s communications policy and that the primary goal of the Universal Service Fund (USF) should be to ensure the availability of sufficient communications, including voice and broadband Internet services, throughout this country.

To that end, CenturyLink supports FCC action to reform its existing high-cost support programs through the development of phase II of the Connect America Fund (CAF). We joined other telecommunications providers in recommending several specific changes to the program that will maximize its effectiveness. Notably, more than 100 federal, state and local legislators and executive officials have written to the FCC in support of giving providers the flexibility they need to deploy high-speed broadband connections to more unserved communities.

Making certain that USF can meet this goal while minimizing the burden on consumers and businesses is vital to achieving ubiquitous broadband availability across the country. However, the USF contribution rules have simply not kept pace with the vast technological changes. CenturyLink believes the USF contribution rules need to be revamped to broaden the contribution base, simplify the contribution methodology and ensure that similar services are subject to the same contribution obligations, regardless of provider.

Consumers in urban areas can usually choose from a variety of service providers because of lower network costs due to the larger number of residents. Consumers in more sparsely populated areas do not enjoy the same choices thanks to the higher costs to serve rural locations, but still need comparable services at comparable prices, which are only available with support from the USF high-cost program. However, USF support should not be used to artificially create competition in high-cost rural areas where it wouldn’t otherwise exist.

CenturyLink recognizes that federal support alone is unlikely to accomplish the national goal of universal service. State partnerships and funding are critical to meeting universal access to essential communication services in any given state.

In addition, USF support is supposed to be specific, predictable and sufficient. As the USF program is updated, mechanisms are needed to allow providers to make the most effective use of USF support.  By knowing the amount and terms of the support available for locations as well as the service obligations associated with that support, providers can make the best business decisions about accepting and using that support to help America achieve its goal of universal access to crucial communications services for everyone.