US telecom group CenturyLink announced Monday it was acquiring Level 3 Communications for $34 billion including debt, boosting its position as a global internet and fiber communications provider.

The cash-and-stock deal provides a 42 percent premium to Level 3 shareholders as of October 26, when speculation began about the tie-up.

The acquisition gives CenturyLink, the third largest US behind Verizon and AT&T, a presence in more than 60 countries and positions it to boost its broadband infrastructure for businesses and consumers.

"The digital economy relies on broadband connectivity, and together with Level 3 we will have one of the most robust fiber network and high-speed data services companies in the world," said Glen Post, CenturyLink chief executive Officer.

"This transaction furthers our commitment to providing our customers with the network to improve their lives and strengthen their businesses."

Upon closing, CenturyLink shareholders will own 51 percent and Level 3 shareholders 49 percent of the combined company.

CenturyLink, which began as a regional telephone firm, became the number three US telecom group in 2010 with the acquisition of the large regional carrier Qwest.