New Telecom Player Seeks Shop For First Advertising

DALLAS – Level 3 Communications, an Omaha, Neb.-based telecom startup, is screening at least three agencies for its inaugural advertising efforts.
Spending levels have not been set, but sources said initial billings could be $30 million or more. Shops competing for the account, according to sources, include DDB Needham Dallas; Leo Burnett, Chicago; and Winkler Advertising, San Francisco.
Client officials had not returned calls at press time, and agency executives either declined to comment or could not be reached.
The timetable for the review was not clear last week.
Earlier this year, Level 3 revealed plans to build and operate an advanced fiber optic communications network across the U.S. Using Internet Protocol (IP) technology, Level 3 claims its network will provide local and long-distance voice and data services at dramatically lower costs than existing circuit-switched systems.
Level 3’s network is scheduled for completion by mid-2001, although the company plans to begin providing some services in up to six U.S. cities by the end of 1998. Level 3 will concentrate on business customers and compete head-on with regional Bell companies.
Until this year, Level 3 operated as Kiewit Diversified Group (KDG), a subsidiary of Omaha-based Peter Kiewit Sons, a construction, mining, information services and communications company. KDG was renamed Level 3 in January and became an independent corporation in March. Kiewit reportedly plans to provide more than $2.5 billion in initial funding for Level 3.
Before joining Level 3 as president and chief executive officer last year, James Crowe served in the same capacities at MFS Communications. That competitive local phone service company, a division of Kiewit, was sold to WorldCom in 1996. Other former MFS executives have joined Crowe at Level 3.
– with Jane Irene Kelly