Friday, May 2, 2008

Level 3

As with the merger of BellSouth into AT&T, Level 3 Communications has acquired Broadwing Corporation. Offering a wide range of additions to their T1 package, from managed network services to their famed Voice over IP, their product provides all the little things you’ll need to run your business.

Level 3 continues the former Broadwing’s guarantee of 50 ms maximum latency with a not-so-great packet loss assurance of less than 1% (it may not affect you much here, but you can find better if you wanted).

Unfortunately, other than the low delay and the promise of multiple services with your T1, Level 3 doesn’t have many other good qualities. Their other guarantees offer themselves plenty of leeway and keep you hoping for the best. For instance, they state that they usually install your connection within 30 days, but if you examine the whole agreement, they’ve included the clause that this happens “most” of the time – there’s no actual overall guarantee, as each consumer’s order may vary in terms of the installation date. Their pricing follows a similar trend, in that the cost of their service may differ from one location to another. There’s no mention of a typical price range, although I would suggest you expect to pay in the mid to high end for average T1 service if you go with them. For the extras they offer, maybe it’ll be worth it for you.

Level 3 does provide a network map, where you can see whether they offer T1 service in your area. Mostly, their product is available within the major cities of the United States, so don’t expect to sign up if you reside somewhere in the upper Midwest.

Oh, and one last word of caution. Although you can choose the time frame in your contract (normally between 1 to 3 years), there is a high termination fee should you cancel before the deal is up. This could include 50% of the port charge and 100% of the local loop.

The good: Level 3, in continuing Broadwing’s specialties, provide a broad range of additional services for your use. Their connection isn’t too bad either.

The bad: Suspicious pricing and other guarantees. Basically, they give themselves room for error and argument.

The bottom line: Unless you really want to support Level 3 Communications, I would recommend another provider. There are just too many gray areas in their contract.