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I have never pretended not to have biases. I like to “wear” mine on my shirtsleeve. Why do I say that Level 3 is a “national treasure?” I do because it holds the most fiber of any network in North American and was built from the ground up as an end to end IP network. Level 3 management from its inception has remained true to the concept of delivering the most wholesale bits for least cost. Further more unlike its fiber based competitors Qwest and Global Crossing Level 3’s management remained squeaky clean. No Joe Nachio there thank you! [Disclaimer: Level 3 is a subscriber but so is one of the 3 remaining ILECS.]

I have been frustrated with Level 3 because I have long been of the opinion that they have not done an adequate job of getting their story “out.” This opinion was reinforced recently when at a conference I asked a well respected professor who has a very excellent book out on the social economic and political benefits of the internet whether he was aware of Level 3 and the role iot played in making possible what his book described. He was unaware and looked a bit worried when I told him my concerns.

I have followed Level 3 for many years but since i don’t enjoy reading SEC 10Ks, I have followed from a distance being aware of their metro acquisitions over the last 18 months but not having a clear picture of the whole company. Turns out that such a picture is there. And what a picture! On March 14 2007 Jim Crowe and the directors of the four business units, plus Kevin Ohara on Markets and Strategy and Sunit Patel on Finance presented a four hour long tour de force.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to active the link for the web cast. I did this morning. Unfortunately my Comcast bandwidth was barely adequate and when James Crowe was answering questions at the end and summarizing company strategy - I was so struck by what he said about vertical integration that i sopped the webcast and backing it up to 14:47 in his remarks tried to restart. Failure - a network clog on my end of the duopoly. I was please by the way to hear Mr. Crowe call it a “duopoly.” anyway i managed to grab the slide that he was explaining and will post it.

For the slide deck click here. Let me say that in general the pdf, even though it is rigidly copy protected, is demand reading. Level 3 truly does lay it all out in 134 slides totally 3.5 megabytes. Grab them - read them. They tell a compelling and impressive story of the only 21st century network in North America and Europe. (BT says its building one such IP based end to end network. I need to do a copmparison.)

I am no expert of making comparative judgments of these investor shows. However, I have asked a couple of colleagues who have seem many such. They say that Level 3 does a very admirable job of letting it all hang out by comparison to what you find from incumbent carriers.

I can’t prove it but if you look at Level 3’s impact on the economy of the USA and especially do so from the point of view of its impact across economic sectors, I wouild guestimate that the existence of Level 3 adds at least one per cent per year to the GDP of the country.

If I were in charge of things, not one of the FCC commissions would be allowed to leave their office until they could demonstrate a thorough knowlege of this material. Same thing for every state PUC! On the other hand - if I were in change, the home page of Level 3 itself would highlight the slide dec and web cast. Burying it on the investor relations page does the company a disservice.

Here is the Crowe slide for which i tried but failed to capture the voice. The slide itself however is quite informative.


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