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)