CenturyLink is a massive internet and telecommunications company that offers service in over 37 states across the country, and in some cases, may be the only provider for large swaths of rural areas across the country. For those people who are considering a move to an area that has CenturyLink internet and TV service, here's a comprehensive review of everything to know before making the switch.
Prices for CenturyLink service differ depending on location across the country, but the one thing that isn't different is their Price For Life guarantee. That means whatever plan you sign up for will be the price for the duration of your billing agreement with CenturyLink. They don't require you to sign a contract to keep that rate, either.
Century Link offers four different plans that range in price from $45/mo all the way up to $85/mo for service. However, the most expensive service is for 1 Gig fiber, and it may not be available except in a few select areas. It's important to contact the local CenturyLink office in the area you live or to which you're moving so you understand what options are available to you. CenturyLink also has an address check available on their website if you're not sure if the company offers service in your area.
The company has also partnered with DIRECTV to offer satellite TV services in some states that come with a variety of options. The cheapest plan with DIRECTV included starts out at $35/mo and includes 150+ channels. Unlike its internet and phone plans, adding DIRECTV service to your CenturyLink bill does put you under a contract for the DirecTV service.
Fees & Equipment
Like most internet providers, CenturyLink charges several fees related to the installation and maintenance of their equipment. You should know this going into the billing arrangement, so you're not sidelined by any fees showing up on your first month's bill. Here's a short run-down of the fees you can expect to pay.
Activation Fee - This fee is charged when you start your service and is applied to your first month's bill. However, it is often waived if the consumer asks the customer service rep who is setting up the account to waive the activation fee.
Installation Fee - If you're having service set up inside your home, you'll be charged an installation fee of $60 on your first month's bill.
Equipment Fees - CenturyLink provides modems available for rental on a month-to-month basis for $10/mo. Or you can buy the modem outright for $150 a month. It's recommended to buy the modem if you will be keeping service longer than fifteen months since it will be cheaper in the long run.
Equipment Shipping & Handling - If CenturyLink ever has to send you a new modem or router, they will charge the shipping and handling for that equipment on your next month's bill.
Repair Fees - If something is wrong with the wiring at your home that requires someone to come and fix, CenturyLink may bill you for the time spent on the next month's bill.
Speeds for CenturyLink's service depends if fiber optic service is available in your area. The FCC's Measuring Broadband America report says that fiber and cable connections are mostly providing the advertised speeds, while DSL providers are much more likely to fall short of those advertised speeds. (It's important to note that CenturyLink does offer DSL service in some areas.)
You may be lured in by the massive Mbps that is featured in some advertisements, but CenturyLink is not known for providing more bandwidth that surpasses those advertised speeds. The FCC data shows that CenturyLink's DSL service delivers on advertised speeds around 80% to 95% of the time. However, satellite services are often worse and the only competition to DSL in some rural locations.
Like most internet providers, CenturyLink does have a data cap. Customers receive 1TB of data per month, and if they go over, the customer will receive a letter in the mail informing them of the data cap and recommending the switch to a more expensive plan. However, there's no evidence that CenturyLink forces people to switch to a larger plan if the 1TB limit is exceeded.
It's often possible to exceed this limit by downloading multiple games or streaming lots of movies and TV, but CenturyLink doesn't seem to be enforcing the data cap as much as another service like Comcast or Verizon. There also doesn't appear to be any throttling of the connection after the 1TB cap is exceeded, so it's unclear why CenturyLink even has this policy.
Customer Service & Support
When it comes to customer service and support, CenturyLink doesn't have the best reputation. In fact, if you browse the Consumer Affairs website where you can see a public list of all the complaints against the company, there are tons of criticisms stacking up from thousands of people across the United States.
Plenty of those complaints allege that the company is over-charging customers and a class action lawsuit has been filed in the state of Minnesota against CenturyLink on behalf of those who say they were overcharged. Customers who are taking part in this lawsuit allege that they were quoted one rate when they signed up, but were billed a rate that was two or three times higher than the quoted rate. CenturyLink is facing class action suits for this in seven other states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.
CenturyLink's Price For life promotion is intended to address these customer complaints, but customers say they're still getting unpredictable bills despite this guarantee.
CenturyLink - Yes or No?
So the bottom line; should you sign up for CenturyLink service? If you're moving to an area where your only option is CenturyLink DSL or satellite internet, then CenturyLink is probably your best bet. But if there are other internet providers that have fiber or cable connections, then you should look elsewhere.
CenturyLink's service is okay for the price you pay, but their customer service and numerous reports of price gouging makes it a concerning option for anyone who has a good variety of choice when it comes to an internet and TV provider. The bottom line is that CenturyLink is an okay only choice, but if you can go elsewhere for internet service, you probably should.
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