Category: Telecommunications

Hickenlooper dubs Aug. 1-5 Tech Week in Colorado

DENVER – Gov. John Hickenlooper has proclaimed the week of Aug. 1-5 as Tech Week in Colorado to highlight the entrepreneurs and companies that are helping transform the state into a major tech hub.

Tech and “tech-enabled” businesses around the state are being encouraged to host events during the week – ranging from happy hours to demonstrations to pitch contests to tours.

Those events can be submitted for promotion through www.coloradotechweek.org. Businesses can also submit stories on the site of how Colorado has helped grow their companies.

In addition, the Colorado Technology Association will host its second annual Colorado Tech Tour, stopping in five regions over five days for events and stops at local businesses.

“We know technology underpins much of Colorado’s economic progress today, and will increasingly do so in the future,” Hickenlooper said in a news release. “Tech week is a catalyst for showcasing the real impact of technology in our lives, and in helping make Colorado one of the nation’s premier technology-inspired hubs.”

More information on Tech Week and the Tech Tour can be attained by contacting the CTA at 303-592-4070 or colotech@coloradotechnology.org.

Hickenlooper’s Brazil trip includes stop at Level 3 data center

BROOMFIELD – As part of his four-day trip to Brazil this week, Gov. John Hickenlooper made a stop at Broomfield-based Level 3 Communications’ data center in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Wednesday.

Hickenlooper traveled to Brazil as part of a delegation of 54 Colorado business, academic and civic leaders attending the 2016 Biennial Summit to Brazil to help showcase Colorado’s business environment to foreign investors.

Hickenlooper toured Level 3’s toured Level 3’s data center, network operations center and distributed denial of service scrubbing center in Sao Paulo to learn more about the company’s cybersecurity services.

Level 3 owns 17 data centers in Latin America, including three in Brazil. The Sao Paulo scrubbing center, opened earlier this year, mitigates against cyber attacks to help customers recover from malicious activity. It’s Level 3’s ninth such center worldwide.

“Seeing firsthand Level 3’s data center gave me great insight into how they identify, research and detect malicious cyber activity,” Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement. “It also reinforced how the efforts we have underway in the state of Colorado will help protect global businesses of all sizes against increasing cyber threats.”

Hickenlooper’s trip continues today and Friday and includes a tour of Projac, Latin America’s largest audio-visual production center, and a visit to Espaco NAVE, a startup incubator.

Morley named sole COO at Zayo as co-founder leaves

BOULDER — Chris Morley, who had shared the duties of chief operating officer at Zayo Group Holdings Inc. with co-founder Matt Erickson, will assume sole COO duties this summer, the Boulder-based communications-infrastructure company announced Tuesday.

Erickson will leave Zayo (NYSE: ZAYO) in late July “on his own accord for personal reasons,” the company said in a media release.

“Matt is an extraordinarily valuable member of Zayo’s executive team, and has been from Zayo’s inception,” said Dan Caruso, Zayo’s chairman and chief executive, in a prepared statement. “I will forever be grateful for Matt’s contributions to Zayo’s success.”

Erickson, who is leaving on his own accord for personal reasons, will continue to be active in his role as co-COO until late July, the company said.

“Morley and Erickson made a great team as co-COOs, with each of them, at various times over the past few years, being responsible for the range of the day-to-day functions of Zayo,” Caruso said. “Matt’s departure affords us the opportunity to combine all these functions under Chris, who is well prepared for the COO scope.”

Morley most recently has been responsible for overseeing the business segments of dark-fiber solutions, network connectivity, cloud and colocation. Erickson has been responsible for global sales, marketing and customer-service functions.

“Our net new bookings in recent quarters have been excellent, as has our churn. We thank Matt for leaving us with strong momentum in these areas,” said Morley, who will present for Zayo on Wednesday at the D.A. Davidson Technology Forum in New York.

Prior to joining Zayo, Caruso and Erickson partnered to take ICG Communications private. Erickson first met Caruso at Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT), when Caruso was group vice president of that Broomfield-based company’s product and marketing organization. Level 3 acquired Englewood-based ICG in 2006.

Zayo provides services including fiber and bandwidth connectivity, colocation and cloud services, and maintains a 112,000-mile network in North America and Europe. The company has 650 employees in Colorado — including 388 at its headquarters at 1805 29tth St. Suite 2050, in Boulder — and 3,300 worldwide, according to Zayo spokeswoman Shannon Paulk.

Earlier this month, Zayo reported a loss of $19.3 million for the third quarter of its fiscal year 2016 that ended March 31 and announced that it had laid off 21 workers at its U.S. operations to reduce positions made redundant by recent acquisitions. Zayo has acquired more than a dozen companies in the past two years, including Toronto-based Allstream Inc., Canada’s fourth-largest telecommunications company, in January.

Comcast targeting 1Q 2017 opening for 600-person call center

FORT COLLINS — Officials for cable broadband services provider Comcast said on Thursday that they plan to begin hiring for a new 600-worker Fort Collins customer service center in the third or fourth quarter of the year, with a grand opening targeted for the first quarter of next year.

Comcast officially unveiled its plans in a ceremony at Galvanize’s Fort Collins campus after initially confirming they’d be opening the facility on Tuesday.

Comcast is leasing 80,000 square feet of vacant space at tech giant Hewlett-Packard’s campus, 3420 E. Harmony Road, and hopes to have most of the 600-plus positions filled when the call center opens. Rich Jennings, senior vice president for Comcast’s mountain-west region, told the crowd Thursday that the company is working on significant upgrades to the facility now, including an onsite gym and extensive training spaces.

“We want it to be fresh, we want it to be slick, modern,” Jennings said. “We want to attract great talent.”

Although Comcast hadn’t been identified publicly as the applicant at the time, the Colorado Economic Development Commission in January approved more than $8.1 million in tax-credit incentives for Comcast to locate the facility in Fort Collins and hire up to 635 employees at an average annual wage of $44,421, equal to or slightly higher than the average for Larimer County. Comcast had also been considering New Mexico and Arizona for the facility.

The new facility is part of a broader initiative launched by Comcast last year to add 5,500 customer-service employees in coming years. New call centers have already opened in Spokane, Wash.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Albuquerque, N.M., with another opening soon in Charleston, S.C. The Fort Collins center will serve residential and business customers from all over the United States, primarily with technical repair and billing support.

With the Larimer County unemployment rate hovering around 3 percent in recent months, Jennings acknowledged that the call center will likely draw employees from the Northern Colorado region as a whole. But he and other Comcast officials said Fort Collins was chosen specifically for its talented workforce and quality of life. They also noted that the call center could provide job opportunities for Colorado State University students and military veterans.

“Our hope is that we can stay right here and focus on (Fort Collins) for these jobs,” Jennings said.

Jonita LeRoy, senior information technology economic development representative for the state of Colorado, said the impact of the site should go far beyond the office walls, noting that tech-based jobs tend to have a higher multiplier effect on the indirect economic impact of a jobsite.

City of Fort Collins officials also heralded Comcast’s plan as a win for the city.

Fort Collins did not offer Comcast incentives. But Josh Birks, economic health director for the city, said the city worked with state officials to manage site request responses from the state and helped facilitate site visits.

While the jobs don’t carry the flashy wage figures that, say, an engineering facility might, both Mayor Wade Troxell and Birks said it’s important for the city to create economic opportunities for a wide variety of citizens. Birks said the Comcast jobs pay well for someone who might not have a lot of work experience or a college degree, and can also serve as a stepping stone to a degree or other opportunities.

“We made a commitment in 2015 to make sure economic activity is spread across education and income levels,” Birks said.

Comcast to open call center at HP campus in Fort Collins, hire 600-plus

FORT COLLINS – Cable broadband giant Comcast is planning to open a customer service center in Fort Collins that is expected to bring as many as 635 new jobs to the city.

Leslie Oliver, director of external communications for Comcast’s West Division, confirmed Tuesday that the call center will be located in vacant space on the Hewlett-Packard campus on Harmony Road.

The company plans to make an official announcement at Galvanize’s Fort Collins campus, 242 Linden St., at 10 a.m. Thursday. Mayor Wade Troxell and officials from the state are expected to be in attendance at Thursday’s event.

“I think it just indicates that Fort Collins is a great place to live work and play and having 600 new positions for employment is a good thing for Fort Collins,” Troxell said via phone Tuesday.

Oliver said more details about the facility, including timelines for when it will be open and be fully staffed, will be disclosed on Thursday.

Comcast currently has more than 50 employees in Fort Collins and more than 8,000 statewide.

The Colorado Economic Development Commission in January approved $8,146,005 in incentives for Comcast to locate the facility in Fort Collins under the state’s Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit program. Referred to then only as “Project Transformation,” minutes from the EDC’s meeting show that the company was also considering Arizona and New Mexico for the new facility. The incentive package is contingent upon the jobs paying an average annual wage of $44,421.

Oliver said the call center jobs would be in addition to the company’s current operations in Fort Collins. While some of the positions could be filled be employees transferring from other Comcast facilities, she said the majority of the jobs would be new hires.

Zayo Group posts $19.3M loss

BOULDER — Broadband infrastructure firm Zayo Group Holding Inc. (NYSE: ZAYO) on Thursday reported a loss of $19.3 million for the third-quarter of its fiscal year 2016 that ended March 31.

The Boulder-based firm’s loss was $8.5 million higher than the prior quarter’s loss of $10.8 million, but lower than the $53.7 million loss recorded for the same period a year ago. Basic and diluted loss per share during the third quarter was 8 cents.

Zayo recorded revenue of $478 million that included $96.1 million from Zayo Canada, the new name for Canadian firm Allstream Inc. that Zayo acquired in November last year for $378 million.

During the three months, capital expenditures were $185.1 million, including $11.1 million attributed to Zayo Canada.

Entering its fourth quarter, Zayo on April 1 acquired Clearview International LLC, a Texas-based colocation and cloud infrastructure services provider for $18.9 million.

As of March 31 the company had $215.2 million of cash and $442.1 million available under its revolving credit facility.

Zayo now has a 112,000-mile network in North America and Europe that includes metro connectivity to thousands of buildings and data centers. In addition to high-capacity dark fiber, wavelength, Ethernet and other connectivity solutions, Zayo offers colocation and cloud services in its carrier-neutral data centers.

Zayo’s stock was trading at $26.93 per share mid-day Friday. Its 52-week range is $19.59 to $29.62.

Level 3’s first-quarter profits take slight dip

BROOMFIELD — Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) posted a slight decrease in first-quarter net income on a per-share basis Thursday, while revenue grew by 21 million versus the same quarter a year earlier.

The Broomfield telecommunications giant’s profit came in at $124 million, or 34 cents per diluted share, for the first quarter. That’s compared with $122 million, or 35 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2015.

Revenue climbed to $2.05 billion, thanks mostly to a 3.6 percent jump in Core Network Services revenue to $1.95 billion.

The company increased its guidance range for 2016 adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), a move that initially caused a boost to Level 3’s share price early Thursday before shares leveled off later in the day.

Just before markets closed Thursday afternoon, Level 3 shares were trading at $54.18, up 9 cents from Wednesday’s close.

Level 3’s CEO returns after 2-month medical leave

BROOMFIELD — Level 3 Communications Inc.’s chief executive Jeff Storey has returned to work after a two-month medical leave of absence.

The Broomfield-based telecommunications company announced in February that Storey would be taking time off to recover from heart surgery.

Chief financial officer Sunit Patel served as interim CEO while Storey was out.

“The board is pleased Jeff has made such a speedy recovery and is back, in good health, at full capacity,” Level 3 chairman James Ellis said in a release. “We’d also like to extend our thanks and appreciation to Sunit and the entire executive management team for their leadership during Jeff’s absence.”

Storey has led Level 3 as CEO for the past three years.

Section.io puts down Boulder roots, raises new equity round

BOULDER — Section.io Inc., a 4-year-old Australian company whose founders recently moved to Boulder, has pulled in a new $800,000 funding round as the firm aims to launch its content-delivery network into the U.S. market.

Section.io CEO Stewart McGrath said Monday that the money will be used primarily to build out a sales and marketing force in the United States.

McGrath said he couldn’t disclose all of the investors involved in the round, but did note that it was led by Boulder-based Tahoma Ventures. The company also counts among its investors and board members former SendGrid CEO Jim Franklin.

Founded in 2012, section.io provides a content-delivery network, or CDN, with software-like characteristics that allows developers and website engineers to treat the CDN as software in their development processes rather than a physical network.

CDNs are a sort of middleman in the Internet between people serving up websites and end-users that help ensure speed, availability and security of the sites to a broad audience. McGrath said that, unlike section.io’s product, many CDNs don’t provide consistency between the test and production environments, hindering developers’ efforts as they try to continuously and rapidly improve or add features to their sites.

While section.io has been successful in the Australian market, the company is going through the Techstars Boulder startup accelerator this spring — even though it’s at a more advanced stage than most companies going through accelerators. The privately held company does not disclose revenue, but boasts among its customers Nike, Thrifty and Mazda.

McGrath said the choice to go through Techstars was made to help tap into the accelerator’s professional network as his company tries to “parachute” into the U.S. market. But he said the company’s leaders are also excited about the mentorship that comes with going through an accelerator.

“I think we’re of the view that there’s always room for acceleration no matter what stage a company’s at,” McGrath said.

Section.io is working out of Techstars currently, but McGrath said the company’s intent is to maintain its headquarters in Boulder upon graduation while keeping an engineering office in Australia. He said the nine-person company could add 10 to 15 new hires in Boulder over the next 12 months.

Fort Collins Internet, data services company FRII to be acquired

FORT COLLINS — After nearly 21 years in business, the founders of Front Range Internet Inc., commonly known as FRII, are working on a deal to sell the company to an undisclosed buyer.

Bill Ward, co-founder and chief executive of the company, confirmed Wednesday that a sale is in the works and could close as soon as the next couple of weeks.

Fort Collins-based FRII, 3350 Eastbrook Drive, provides Internet and commercial data services primarily for businesses in Northern Colorado, though its reach covers most of the state as well as clients on the East Coast.

Ward said he couldn’t disclose many details of the arrangement or changes that may or may not be on tap until the deal is final, but noted that he believes the plan is for the company to keep its own branding. Ward anticipates that the company’s roughly 20 employees would remain following the merger – including himself, at least for some period of time, and son Brad Ward, the company’s chief operations officer.

“We thought maybe it was time,” the 70-year-old Ward said. “I’m happy about this. It wasn’t necessarily in the plan when it first started. But we started talking and thought it might be a good thing to do. I think it’s certainly going to be good for the longer-range plan of the company.”

Ward said the pending sale of the company came about after FRII officials connected with a group associated with a customer FRII was pursuing.

“They ended up looking at what we had and decided they preferred to own it rather than be a customer,” Ward said. “One thing led to another and now we’re finding a way to finish it.”

Ward — a veteran of the aerospace industry and a former F-106 pilot in the Air Force — founded FRII along with his son and Andy Neely in 1995 as an Internet service provider. The Wards are majority owners of the company, while Neely remains a shareholder but no longer works with FRII. Ward said annual revenue has hovered around $4 million for the past few years.

FRII’s mission has evolved over time, though it does still offer ISP services and also serves some residential customers.

The company has three large 10-gigabit fiber optic rings around Loveland, Fort Collins and Estes Park, with expansion into Windsor on the way. The company also offers its WiFRII high-speed wireless Internet service for local small businesses.

In addition to the Internet services, though, FRII’s offerings include data center and cloud services, hosting and email, and professional services.

While most of the company’s business is in Colorado, chief information officer Garry Myall said the firm does have some customers on the East Coast who back up their systems and data with FRII’s data center in Fort Collins to hedge against coastal storms knocking out their primary data centers closer to home.