* Deal at 56 pct premium
* Total deal at $3 bln, including $1.1 bln in debt
* Level 3 shares up 26 pct pre-mkt
* Global Crossing shares up 73 pct pre-mkt (Rewrites paragraph 1 to add deal rationale, adds premium, background, updates share movement)
April 11 (Reuters) - Internet content delivery company Level 3 Communications Inc plans to buy smaller rival Global Crossing Ltd for about $1.9 billion in a stock deal, as it looks to wrestle market share from Akamai Technologies Inc .
Level 3 and Akamai compete to provide the network backbone for online video streaming services like Netflix Inc’s popular movie downloads.
The deal values Global Crossing at $23.04 a share, a premium of 56 percent to Global Crossing’s Friday close.
Global Crossing shareholders will receive 16 shares of Level 3 common stock for each share held, the latter said in a statement.
Level 3 will also assume $1.1 billion of Global Crossing’s debt, bringing the total deal value to about $3 billion.
Shares of Global Crossing were up 73 percent at $25.67 in trading before the bell on Monday.
Shares of Broomfield, Colorado-based Level 3 were up 26 percent in trading before the bell on Monday, after closing at $1.44 on Friday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh and Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)