CenturyLink Internet in a Nutshell
Offers Service in: In parts of all 50 states
Major Cities Covered: Phoenix, AZ, Tucson, AZ, Colorado Springs, CO, Denver, CO, Jacksonville, FL, Orlando, FL, Minneapolis, MN, Saint Paul, MN, Charlotte, NC, Albuquerque, NM, Las Vegas, NV, New York, NY, Cincinnati, OH, Columbus, OH, Portland, OR, Austin, TX, El Paso, TX, San Antonio, TX, Salt Lake City, UT, and Seattle, WA
Residential Pricing: $49+ per month
Isn’t it frustrating when the price of your monthly internet jumps up after a year when your promotional pricing expires? It’s enough to make me want to cancel my service and shop for a new provider. Luckily CenturyLink’s Price for Life on its Fiber plans makes it a provider worth sticking with for the long haul.
There’s more to CenturyLink’s internet service than just their Price for Life and their contract-free plans that make them a solid choice over internet giants like AT&T. To make it clear, I’ll go over the plans, pricing, equipment, and customer service in this year’s review of CenturyLink internet. I’ll also show you how the service works from my house, including my speed test results, the equipment I received from CenturyLink, and how to pull up your account from your smartphone.
Let’s get started!
Overview of CenturyLink Internet
If you’ve just moved to an area served by CenturyLink, you may only know the name from CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. Actually, CenturyLink is one of the fastest-growing fiber internet providers in the US, competing directly against AT&T, Earthlink, and Verizon Fios in many parts of the country. DSL is no longer the hot commodity for internet service, but as CenturyLink builds its fiber network, they’re simultaneously strengthening their DSL network. CenturyLink is usually in the top three for the fastest DSL internet provider where they’re available.
Reliability is as important as fast speeds, and CenturyLink Internet has a good balance of both. The FCC reports that less than half of CenturyLink customers get at least 95 percent of their advertised download speed. Below are the results from my speed test this morning (I have a 100MB Centurylink Fiber plan).
It’s truly blazing fast at all times — as of this writing, my son is watching The Lorax on Netflix, my husband is playing For Honor, and I’m taking Zoom calls while researching — oh, and listening to Spotify, too. If you’re wondering why I pay for 100 Mbps but am only seeing 89Mbps speeds, that can be due to a number of different things, such as the Wi-Fi connection (as you’ll see, my equipment is in the basement but I’m on the second floor).
From my experience, I can do whatever I want as fast as I want it with this fiber connection. Buffering and lagging issues aren’t a problem for us and our internet is blazing fast all day. It should be noted that I live in a major city. Some CenturyLink customers do report slower speeds, and speeds vary depending on where you live.
As far as pricing, CenturyLink’s Price for Life comes with a tradeoff. You’re paying a little more in monthly fee upfront, but don’t get a big price hike in the future when promotional pricing wears off and I’m perfectly OK with that. In my mind, a guaranteed price is hard to beat when you can get reliable speeds. In a business where a lot of companies rely on dazzling up-front pricing and sneaky fees later on, CenturyLink deals stand out because they are about consistency and transparency.
Before getting into the details of my experience and an explanation of plans, pricing, and the fine print, here are my top pros and cons.
Pros and Cons of CenturyLink Internet
- No price hikes with Price for Life guarantee
- Fiber internet quality and speed
- Contract-free plans
- Data cap on all plans
- DSL internet plans are comparatively expensive
- Customer service receives low ratings
CenturyLink Plans & Speeds: Is CenturyLink Fast?
CenturyLink advertises five internet plans with download speeds ranging up to 10-940 Mbps, but only two of their plans are really worth considering due to their pricing: the up to 100 Mbps and Gigabit (or up to 940 Mbps) plans. The Price for Life Guarantee applies to all plans with speeds ranging up to 100 Mbps, but each plan will have the same price, $49. That’s reasonable for a 100 Mbps plan compared to the plans I’ve analyzed, but Earthlink, AT&T, and Suddenlink can provide you with cheaper plans for similar speeds.
CenturyLink Plans, Pricing and Speeds
|Up to 10 Mbps
|Up to 20 Mbps
|Up to 40 Mbps
|Up to 100 Mbps
|Up to 940 Mbps
Oddly enough, there’s no in-between plan from 100 to 940 Mbps. This is where providers like Suddenlink stand out among CenturyLink, especially since they have better prices (for example, Suddenlink charges $44.99 for up to 300 Mbps). That said, I have an active family and the 100 Mbps plan is great for me.
CenturyLink Data Caps
Most cell phone plans now come with unlimited data, and I wish that internet service providers would follow suit. In CenturyLink’s case, each Internet plan comes with a monthly, 1 TB data cap. Most providers claim data caps are in place to ensure each person gets a chance to have a fast, online experience. That being said, Verizon Fios, Frontier FiberOptic, and AT&T Fiber offer data cap free gigabit plans and those speeds are generally blazing fast.
CenturyLink Internet Fees
|Up to $125
|Early Termination fee
Installation fees are a necessary evil. Some customers are able to avoid CenturyLink’s almost mysterious professional installation fee. We say mysterious because there isn’t a set price for CenturyLink’s professional internet installation; instead, the price maxes out at $125. We’ve heard reports that you can get this waived, so make sure to ask! In my case, they were installing fiber directly to my home, so I felt pretty good about it. Most providers charge no more than $99 for professional installation placing CenturyLink as one of the more costly providers to sign up with.
CenturyLink truly one-ups competitors like Frontier FiberOptic or AT&T by having contract-free internet plans. In my experience, happy customers are going to stick around and a contract-free experience builds trust. If for some reason, Centurylink just doesn’t work for you, cancel! No harm, no foul.
Oh, hidden fees. Hidden might be an overstatement because CenturyLink is upfront that if you use CenturyLink’s equipment, you have an additional monthly charge. Many consumers don’t factor that in, but you should. In my case, I pay $49/mo for my internet, along with the modem I’m renting for $15/mo—a total of $64/mo.
You could opt to buy your own router, which could save you hundreds depending on how long you’re with CenturyLink. But I’d recommend sticking to CenturyLink’s equipment, and instead of renting you can choose to buy a router from CenturyLink for $150.
Below is an image of my CenturyLink ZyXel C3000Z router/modem combination. I have mine in the basement and I use an Eero WiFi extender to spread the signal around the entire house. Placing a router/modem in a non-central location in your house is asking for spotty or lackluster WiFi performance. Thankfully, the C3000Z can deliver a strong signal despite its small size.
As you can see, the C3000Z is thinner than a tennis ball and can withstand the Nerf gun wars my son and I enjoy having. Even if you only plan on staying with CenturyLink for a year, you’ll save $30 by buying the router rather than renting/leasing it. You’ll also be able to get faster technical support and free equipment upgrades. I just recommend adding a WiFi extender to your network if you have a multi-level home.
CenturyLink Customer Service
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) states the average customer satisfaction score for an internet provider to receive is 62. CenturyLink may have placed in the bottom half, with 59 points, but customer service experience is not easy to generalize. Broadbandnow shows CenturyLink’s customer reviews give CenturyLink Internet a 3.17 star rating out of five. Reading through the reviews, it’s clear CenturyLink’s most disgruntled customers suffer from a slow internet connection or are given empty promises by the rep they spoke to.
There have been complaints about technicians not showing at the scheduled time, sometimes leaving newly relocated customers without internet for days. I have yet to experience a problem with CenturyLink’s customer service. Then again, I live in a major city with reliable speeds and my price is guaranteed—there isn’t much for me to contact CenturyLink about. Most times I’ve had an issue with my router, I’m able to fix it on my own using the CenturyLink app. The app (shown in the screenshots below) has taken away my need to call or even login to my account online—it’s easier to navigate and all my important functions are available, i.e. change/setup autopay, taking a speed test, and resetting my modem.
The time I did contact CenturyLink was to ask if they offered TV service. They don’t directly, so your best bet is to turn to streaming services. Be sure to shop around to find out the best streaming service for you.
If speed and reliability is what you’re after, CenturyLink Fiber is an excellent choice. If only CenturyLink DSL is in your area, CenturyLink should be just fine, albeit with slower speeds. CenturyLink isn’t one of the internet providers to add in freebies like streaming service subscriptions or discount programs, but they provide ease of mind which is invaluable with how much my family and my job depend on a reliable internet connection.
If you have “commitment issues”, you’ll be happy with CenturyLink’s contract-free pricing with Price for Life on most plans, so you can “date for a while” before “getting hitched”.