February 3, 2019

CenturyLink Review

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CenturyLink is the third biggest telecommunications provider in the US. They offer internet, phone, and TV in 37 states across the country. The have both fiber and DSL, although their fiber network is only available in certain areas.

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Is it the right provider for you? Read on to find out.

CENTURYLINK INTERNET PROS AND CONS

PROS:

  • No contract
  • Price-lock for life
  • Available in 37 states across the country
  • Offers a military discount
  • Offers double play and triple play bundles
  • Norton AntiVirus included with internet subscription

CONS:

  • Limited fiber optic availability
  • Poor customer service
  • No cable internet option
  • Comes with 1 TB data cap

HOW CENTURYLINK INTERNET WORKS

CenturyLink is a provider of internet, TV, and home phone service. For internet, they only have DSL or fiber optic. These can be bundled with TV and phone.

However, their fiber optic network is available only in 10 cities. For other customers, they have DSL internet instead.

Once you sign up with them, you may be able to self-install (you can save on installation costs). For self-installation, they'll send you a kit with instructions. Otherwise, a technician will come to install the service for you.

CenturyLink is widely available, but there's still a few things you should know before signing up. We discuss these below.

REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TO CENTURYLINK

  1. "Price For Life" and no contract.
    One of CenturyLink's biggest sales pitch is their "Price For Life" offer. CenturyLink claims that they'll never raise prices—ever. They also don't lock you into a contract, so you can leave anytime.

    This sounds too good to be true, so we had a look at their terms and conditions. It seems real… for the most part. In short, if you do get their "Price For Life" offer you'll be paying the same price for as long as you use their service.

    But, a few things can change this.

    First, the offer only applies if you stay at the same address. If you move or change your address, the offer is void. You won't get the same deal at your new home.

    Second, they state that you can't change your account in any way. Changing your plan or upgrading to a faster speed—deal void. Suspend your internet while going on holiday (the Vacation Program), same thing.

    Even if your service gets disconnected, no more price for life.

    All that might still be reasonable, but they also included this line in their Terms and Conditions:

    "Month-to-month service may be cancelled at any time."

    Which means they could just cancel your service and offer a new one, raising their prices anyway.

    Still, you're not bound by a contract, so if you don't like their service, you can just quit—no strings attached.

  2. Available almost anywhere.
    With services in 37 states across the country, CenturyLink is easily accessible. Although their fiber optic service is limited, they have wide DSL coverage. They're currently the third biggest DSL provider in the country.

    You can enter your address on their website to see what's available. However, the addresses we used showed more error pages than proper links.

    The good news is that they provide local numbers for each state they're available in. If you can't find offers in your area, just call them directly.

    If you're looking for fiber optic, though, they only provide it in a few cities.

    You can view the full list of cities that offer fiber here.

    If fiber optic is all you care about, there might be better options elsewhere.

  3. You get free Norton AntiVirus.
    When you sign up for CenturyLink's internet service, you get free Norton AntiVirus. You can install it on up to five computers.

    You can also upgrade to Norton Security and Norton 360 through your CenturyLink@Ease account. The subscription is slightly cheaper for the first two months if you upgrade through CenturyLink.

    What is a CenturyLink@Ease account?
    A CenturyLink @Ease account is CenturyLink's internet protection plan. The basic plan is free and comes with their all internet subscriptions. It includes a basic Norton Antivirus program.

    You can upgrade your @Ease plan for higher levels of internet security. Upgrades include Norton 360 full-suite, PC protection plans and PC services.

  4. You want a bundled deal.
    If you're also looking for TV and phone, CenturyLink offers bundled plans for you. TV watchers might appreciate CenturyLink's TV service. They offer either Prism TV (through their fiber optic service) or DIRECTV, which is satellite TV.

    However, Prism TV may not be easy to get. CenturyLink is pushing for DIRECTV instead. We had to comb through their site to get information about Prism TV.

    You may still get Prism TV, but it's best to check with your local CenturyLink customer service.

    If you planned on getting DIRECTV with internet anyway, you might get a better deal by bundling them together. You get $5 off your monthly bill.

  5. You used to work for the United States Armed Forces.
    According to CenturyLink, they offer a discount for those who served in the military. There aren't any details about the deal—you'll just have to call them up and see what's being offered.

  6. You want fiber optic internet.
    It's only being offered in a few cities, but CenturyLink does have a fiber optic service. In some places, speeds can go up to 1 Gbps!

    Fiber optic internet is better than cable or DSL. It's faster since it transmits data in pulses of light. It also has the same download and upload speeds, which is useful if you need to upload large files online.

    If CenturyLink's fiber optic is available in your area, you can expect faster, more reliable connections.

    How is fiber optic internet better?
    Fiber optic are strands of glass cables, capable of transmitting pulses of light. These signals don't lose strength when transmitted over long distances. They're also not prone to interference from other signals (unlike copper cables).

    That's why fiber optic networks are much faster than DSL or cable. They also have the same download and upload speeds.

REASONS TO CONSIDER OTHER PROVIDERS

  1. You want good customer service.
    The 2018 American Customer Service Index (ACSI) report shows that CenturyLink is close to the bottom of the barrel. It scores an unimpressive 58—lower than Charter Spectrum, Comcast Xfinity and Cox Communications.

    A quick search on Google show users having problems with slow speeds and poor connections. If you're not willing to risk it, try another provider instead.

  2. No cable internet option
    CenturyLink doesn't have a cable internet option. It's only DSL or fiber, and fiber is limited. Generally, DSL is not as fast as cable, so connection speeds might be slower. However, final speeds still depend on factors such as distance and traffic loads.

    DSL is fine for basic internet use like surfing the web and sending e-mails. But you might want faster speeds if you game online or stream HD videos.

    What's the difference between cable and DSL?
    DSL stands for digital subscriber line and uses phone lines that already run to your home. That's why it's widely available—most homes already have a landline service.

    DSL uses the same copper wires as your phone, but it's not dial-up. It's much faster and doesn't share your phone connection.

    Cable internet uses the same coaxial cable that delivers your TV service. It's slightly faster than DSL but needs a shared neighborhood hub. Usually providers won't install it if demand is low, like in rural areas.

  3. Comes with a 1TB data cap.
    CenturyLink does come with a 1TB monthly data cap. We're listing this under cons, although regular internet users will probably never hit this limit. Even power users don't usually use that much data.

    Realistically, DSL users may never hit this mark. There's a bigger chance with fiber users, but it's not easy.

    Still, we consider it a con since there are other providers who offer limitless data. If you're a serious power user, try no-cap providers like FiOS by Verizon.

OTHER INTERNET PROVIDERS TO CONSIDER

  • FiOS by Verizon: If you're looking for fiber optic, FiOS by Verizon is one of the best providers out there. Their speeds range from 100 - 500 Mbps. In some areas, it can even go up to 940 Mbps! This is fast enough for pretty much anything you'd want to do online

    The numbers aren't just for show either—the FCC reports that Verizon delivered 95% of their advertised speeds. What you see really is what you get.

    They rank first on the ACSI index too, so customer satisfaction is top notch.

    The only downside is that they're quite limited. It's currently only available in nine states. Still, if Verizon is available where you are, you might want to consider using their service.

  • Comcast Xfinity: If you can't get CenturyLink in your area, try Xfinity. It's a popular choice, available in 40 states nationwide.

    Xfinity rates well in terms of performance. The FCC reports that majority of Xfinity customers get the speeds they paid for. Over 90% of their panelists had speeds of at least 80% of their advertised speeds.

    One downside is that Xfinity doesn't have symmetrical speeds. Upload speeds are less than 10 Mbps, so if you upload a lot of data, it's not the best provider. Still, Xfinity offers cable, which might be faster than CenturyLink's DSL.

    Xfinity's customer service also scores higher than CenturyLink. Xfinity scored 60 while CenturyLink is 58. It's only two points, but higher is higher. If you're looking for cable and (slightly) better customer service, go with Xfinity instead.

  • Charter Spectrum: With services in over 40 states, Charter Spectrum is another popular provider. Their plans have no contract too, which is great for those who don't want to commit.

    In terms of internet speed and performance, Charter Spectrum delivers. The FCC reports that Charter Spectrum delivered more than 90% of its advertised speeds to its users.

    What we don't like about Charter Spectrum is that their pricing is not transparent. Pricing and services available change according to your location. It's the same for most other providers, so we can't really fault them on this one.

    If you're thinking of signing up with Charter, talk with their customer service first. Find out exactly what the price structure is. Know what your prices are in the first year and the second. It may vary by location, so take the advertised price with a grain of salt.

    In terms of customer satisfaction, Charter Spectrum scored 60. It's still higher than CenturyLink, which may be a factor for you.

    In short, Charter Spectrum is not a bad choice. The only problem is that it's hard to get a clear idea of your costs. For that, you'd have to talk to them directly.

Check out our full reviews on these other providers here.

BOTTOM LINE

CenturyLink's biggest plus points are their "Price For Life" deal and DSL availability. Having set prices means you don't have to worry about hikes in your monthly bill. Also, having no contract means you can cancel anytime. This makes CenturyLink fairly low risk.

On the other hand, their customer service is quite bad. You don't want to end up with a service that's too slow for you, and then have difficulty canceling.

Still if you have access to their fiber optic service, it may be a good deal. You can get faster speeds and not worry about price hikes. And if you live in a rural area, CenturyLink might be the only one available.

The bottom line is that CenturyLink is decent, but still not first pick. Look around and see what else is there before deciding.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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