CenturyLink is one of the largest internet service providers in the US as well as the fourth largest telecommunication company.
They are a bit on the expensive side when it comes to internet packages because they only provide DSL and fiber internet services. Plus, their fiber services are only available in limited areas currently, but they are actively working on bringing them to more regions!
Their top areas include Las Vegas, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Denver, and Tucson, with the highest coverage being Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington. But thanks to their use of existing phone line infrastructure they are able to provide their internet services to many rural areas!
Although they are a little more expensive, they do offer a wide range of speeds for their internet packages that also come with added internet security. Their strongest selling point is the consistent pricing they offer when compared to other providers and there are little to no hidden fees. So with CenturyLink, what you see is what you get.
Ready To Try CenturyLink Internet or Want to Learn More?
Packages and Pricing
CenturyLink offers several high-speed internet packages in the selected areas where their services are available. These packages differ quite a lot when it comes to speeds, but the pricing differences are much much smaller.
- 20 Mb/s for $45/month – best starter pack, ideal for one to two users with a few devices each who want to surf and engage in light streaming and gaming.
- 80 Mb/s for $55/month – Ideal for streaming, surfing, HD streaming, and light gaming.
- 100 Mb/s for $65/month Best for multiple-user households who use a lot of HD streaming services.
- 1Gb/s (1000 Mb/s) Fiber Internet Package for $65/month – This fiber internet package is the best choice for multiple-user households that use a larger amount of internet-enabled devices (computers, gaming consoles, smart TVs, tablets) and are especially good for fast-paced online games.
Note: You’ll notice the 1Gbps and 100 Mb/s plans are the same price. This is because in some areas 100 Mb/s is the best speed you can get – so they are essentially the same ‘higher’ tier depending on your location and the services CenturyLink can offer you.
All plans come with a 1TB data cap, which puts it in the average range offered by most ISPs today. There are two exceptions to the data cap: the 1Gb/s Fiber plan doesn’t have it, as well as households that have discounted CenturyLink internet services as part of the program that promotes adoption of broadband internet in low-income households, which puts CenturyLink above the rest!
CenturyLink is very forthcoming about their advertised speeds, which is not something you see every day. While most ISPs choose to advertise “up to” speeds, they provide little information about the actual speeds you can expect on your line and factors affecting them.
CenturyLink is very clear in stating that the speeds that are usually marketed might not be available in all areas. The highest available speed will always be identified during the ordering process. All their speed packages state that they are “up to” a selected speed, which means that based on the location, they will provide the highest possible speed but might not be able to provide the maximum speed marketed in the package.
CenturyLink’s legal information explains in great detail what factors can affect network performance (not just speed, but other factors like latency and packet loss too) and availability of their services. The factors they list as having an impact on performance include the following:
- The physical condition of the line and wiring
- Service location
- Phone line qualification
- Computer and operating system performance/configuration
- Network and internet traffic and congestion
- Distance from CenturyLink data equipment
- Website server speed
The most refreshing piece of information they offer is statistics on the actual speeds you can expect from their packages! According to their data, average speeds are often above 95% of the marketed “up to” price, but for Gigabit package users, the speeds will never go above 940Mb/s.
It’s worth noting here that around 20% of users experience speeds below 80% of the advertised “up to” speed, and there are only rare cases where the speed is even lower.
CenturyLink also provide an area where you can test your current network performance on their Click Speed Test page!
CenturyLink also has a Refer-A-Friend program that will get you both a $75 prepaid reward card when they order the service.
Fair Use Policy
CenturyLink actively manages their network, and in case there’s congestion, they ensure a fair distribution of network resources, which basically means that they might limit speeds at certain times. According to their data, congestion most often happens during evening hours, between 7PM and 11PM, when they will limit speeds for everyone on the affected network node to ensure everybody has speeds closest to their advertised package speed.
Their table shows the average actual speed that users will have during peak hours in case there’s congestion.
|CenturyLink Advertised Speed||Actual Speed During Peak Hours (7PM to 11PM local time)|
|12 Mbps||11.12 Mbps|
|20 Mbps||15.87 Mbps|
|40 Mbps||34.15 Mbps|
|60 Mbps||53.04 Mbps|
|80 Mbps||67.40 Mbps|
|100 Mbps (fiber)||97 Mbps|
|1 Gbps (1000 Mbps)||875 Mbps|
CenturyLink ensures “customers are not excessively using the network” by monitoring each individual usage, and there have been rare cases where they have either downgraded the service or completely disconnected customers who were using it too much, but not before they have taken active steps to help the customer bring their usage down.
CenturyLink have fewer fees compared to other ISPs. But, the installation fee is their highest. You could be looking at up to $125 for their prepaid options and up to $99 for postpaid options. The price of the fee is based on the network technology of each location. Note that some areas don’t have self-installation available, so paying the fee is the only option.
On the plus side, CenturyLink don’t require you to sign a contract for a minimum term so there are no early termination fees to consider.
CenturyLink Modem & Router Review
All CenturyLink plans include a modem and have the option to either lease it for a price of $10/month or make a one-time purchase and pay $150. If you plan to stay longer than fifteen months, it’s best to buy the modem. If you’re not sure yet, a lease is the better choice here.
You can also use your own modem, but you have to make sure it’s approved by CenturyLink otherwise they won’t provide technical support for it.
Features and Benefits
CenturyLink offers several additional benefits internet plan users:
Internet Security with Each Package
All CenturyLink packages come with basic Norton Internet Security as standard that protects you from malevolent practices.
CenturyLink Customer Internet Protection Program (CIPP)
The program helps minimize the spread of malicious software like viruses and malware. This program is incorporated in all residential and small business broadband service packages.
In case a virus or other malware is detected, CenturyLink will not only notify the customer and help them resolve the issue but also educate them on how to avoid infections in the future. Help is offered in the form of online self-help guides and tools on how to successfully remove the infection.
This is an additional service available as a recurring monthly subscription. There are three price tiers available: Standard for $9.99 per month, Advanced for $14.99 per month, and Ultra for $19.99 per month.
- The Standard plan includes desktop and internet security, PC support services (health check, optimization, and phone support), PC protection plan and Inside Wire Maintenance services, as well as online backup option for 5GB of data.
- The Advanced plan covers all these services and also has additional extended modem warranty, 50GB of cloud storage, support for your operating system issues, as well as ultimate PC protection that includes spam and hacker protection.
- The Ultra plan comes with all of that, but also includes 200GB of cloud storage, as well as identity theft protection and virus removal services.
A prepaid service that automatically makes payments to the credit or debit card of your choosing, so you don’t have to worry about being late with your payments.
CenturyLink’s customer support is available around the clock, 24/7, for all their customers, no matter which internet plan you choose.
But, while their availability is really good, the overall service is rated ‘average.’ The most common complaints users voice about their customer service is having to explain the issue every time they are referred to a new representative and having to wait longer than anticipated for installation or to resolve connectivity issues.
Still, their average customer service rating is on par with other ISPs – it’s not any better or worse when compared to their competitors.
That being said, their self-help is quite detailed, empowering their customers to resolve issues on their own instead of having to rely on customer support every time. The CenturyLink Guidance Center helps with troubleshooting, setting up, and fixing services. Customers can follow steps on troubleshooting slow or no internet connection, connecting wireless devices to the modem, turning on Wi-Fi, changing Wi-Fi passwords, setting up and activating services, and more.
The online customer center also offers services like the “Service Troubleshooter” where you simply write down your billing or account phone number and billing zip code to get started. The troubleshooter also allows you to schedule repair requests or check if the problem you are experiencing is affecting only you or your whole area. Which can negate the need to speak to customer service entirely.
Ways to Save on CenturyLink Internet
Use Your Own Modem
While you can lease or buy the modem, you can also choose to use your own modem instead. Just make sure it’s approved by CenturyLink to be able to get tech support when you need it.
It’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for special promotions that bring the price down. CenturyLink often has $20 discounts on their plans for new customers, which, when bundled with Price For Life, keeps it that low forever.
The Price for Life offer gives all new CenturyLink customers a price lock on their plans, meaning they keep the price they agreed upon as long as they continue using the service without any interruptions. If the price is currently discounted as part of the promotion, you can get the 1GB/s plan for as little as $59.99 per month, and that price remains the same as long as you use the service. This is an excellent way to protect against price hikes.
New Customer Benefits
New customers who choose the Price For Life prepaid plan are eligible to receive a free modem and free installation, which considerably lowers the overall price!
If you require more than just high-speed internet, you can bundle services as CenturyLink offers TV and phone services too. In bundles, you will often get unlimited calling nationwide and up to 330 channels with their DirecTV services. All their bundles are also available with lock-in pricing.
Our Recommendation – CenturyLink Internet
CenturyLink is a great choice for those who live in rural areas and prefer data-heavy activities like HD streaming and online gaming, and live in larger households with many users and devices. Their coverage is better than that of their counterparts, and their DSL and Fiber internet packages deliver speeds from 20Mb/s to 1Gb/s.
What really makes them stand out is their transparency when it comes to internet availability and the fact that no contract is needed for their exclusive offers. The biggest commitment you have to make with them is opting for a prepaid option where your credit or debit card will be billed on a monthly basis, but you can quit at any time without the fear of any termination fees.
But from a cost perspective, the real highlight is their lock-in pricing. The price you sign up with stays the same for as long as you are using their services, and this is what keeps most customers with them long term. Not having to worry about rate hikes and having great deals that don’t require bundles make them a robust choice.
Is CenturyLink For You?