Last year, there was talk that Apple was testing Level 3’s content delivery network and was looking at the CDN to deliver some of their software downloads. Based on traceroute info over the past few weeks, it’s clear that Level 3 has in fact won a contract with Apple to deliver some of their software downloads, including a share of iOS 6 and iTunes updates and installers, in the U.S. and Europe. I don’t know the size of this contract from a revenue standpoint, but I know it’s not nearly as big as the contract Akamai has with Apple and all of the content I have traced from the iTunes store still comes from Akamai, which they appear to still have an exclusive on.
That said, it’s now clear that Apple is looking at a dual-vendor approach to their CDN initiatives and is looking to rely on more than just one content delivery network to get their software updates to consumer devices. iOS 6 and iTunes software updates are now coming from both Akamai and Level 3 and I hear that Apple is looking at using more dual-vendor approaches to their content delivery in the future, as Apple changes code in their software to better utilize a multi-CDN environment.
Level 3 had “no comment” for me when I reached out to them for more details, which I would expect considering Apple is very protective of how they do things on the backend and requires third-party vendors not to talk about what services they provide to them.