The Department of Justice announced today that CenturyLink, Inc. has agreed to settle allegations that CenturyLink violated the court-ordered Final Judgment designed to prevent anticompetitive effects arising from its acquisition of Level 3 Communications, Inc.
Despite provisions in the Final Judgment barring CenturyLink from soliciting customers that switched to the buyer of the divestiture assets, CenturyLink failed to comply, initiating contact on over 70 occasions over more than a year with former Level 3 customers who elected to switch to the divestiture buyer in the Boise City-Nampa, Idaho MSA (Boise MSA). CenturyLink does not deny the United States’ allegations and has agreed to the Amended Final Judgment.
“When a defendant violates the terms of a settlement decree, it must be held accountable to its obligations to the department and the American consumer,” said Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Today’s motion to amend the Final Judgment ensures that consumers get the benefit of competition otherwise lost by CenturyLink’s acquisition of Level 3 Communications. I also commend CenturyLink for its cooperation in resolving the department’s concerns.”
The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division today filed an unopposed motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to amend the current Final Judgment, entered on March 6, 2018, in order to resolve the department’s concerns. As part of the settlement, CenturyLink has agreed to:
- extend the non-solicitation period by two years for the Boise MSA;
- the appointment of an independent monitoring trustee; and
- pay the United States to defray the costs of the department’s investigation of CenturyLink’s violations of the court order.
These provisions will allow the divestiture buyer to have the benefit of the original court order which was designed to enable the divestiture buyer to replace competition lost as a result of CenturyLink’s acquisition of Level 3, ensure that CenturyLink follows the court order going forward, and recoup taxpayer funds. CenturyLink also agreed to the addition mandated by AAG Delrahim of the four new standard provisions that the department has required in all recent antitrust settlements that make the Antitrust Division’s consent decrees easier to enforce.
CenturyLink, one of the largest wireline telecommunications providers in the United States, is the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) in portions of 37 states and is also a global communications, hosting, cloud, and IT services company. The company provides broadband, voice, video, data, and managed services over a robust 450,000 route-mile global network, connecting approximately 170,000 fiber-based on-net enterprise buildings. In 2019, CenturyLink had revenues of approximately $22.4 billion.