CenturyLink Inc. CTL, a leading regional wireline service provider, is reportedly seeking permission from the U.S. telecom regulator, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct trials of fixed wireless spectrum bands in the range of 3.54 GHz to 3.70 GHz frequency band.
The trial is aimed to check the utilization of wireless bands to provide better broadband services and further extend broadband services to those rural areas where it’s tough to make wireline facilities available. The testing seeks to understand the viability of new technologies in this band that may be useful in providing fixed broadband services.
CenturyLink has also requested FCC to grant confidential treatment in relation to its trials. This is because the trials include confidential commercial information, technical data and trade secrets concerning CenturyLink services under development and related testing processes, all of which the company wants to customarily guard from public disclosure.
Besides the trial of 3.4-3.7 GHz wireless spectrum bands, CenturyLink is looking to work with other providers rolling out future 5G wireless networks. CenturyLink is gearing up to align with 5G providers and other wireless providers aiming to bring higher speeds to customers at less costs. The service provider has also expressed its desire for any new partnerships under the Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) program.
CAF-II is an FCC reform initiative that promises to bring broadband to an estimated 23 million Americans in rural uncovered areas as the service has been deemed a necessity in today's technology environment.
CenturyLink is not the only service provider trying to deploy fixed broadband wireless to accelerate rural broadband expansion. Other rural-centric providers like Frontier Communications Corp FTR, Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc CNSL and Windstream Holdings Inc WIN are also witnessing similar opportunities via the FCC’s CAF-II funds.
The much-hyped merger between CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications Inc LVLT received regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), subject to outlined conditions, including court approval of certain provisions.
However, the pending merger still awaits regulatory approval from the FCC and the California Public Utilities Commission, along with other customary closing conditions. The deal is anticipated to close in the third quarter of 2017, subject to customary regulatory approvals.
Price Performance and Zacks Rank
In the past month, shares of CenturyLink have rallied 9.1% compared with the industry’s increase of 5.4%.
Currently, CenturyLink is a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) stock.
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