CenturyLink Internet Review

Lower pricing is the best thing CenturyLink has going for its internet plans.

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Lower pricing is the best thing CenturyLink has going for its internet plans.
Overall Rating3.35 out of 5
Price:
$34.95-$104.95
Download Speed:
7 Mbps - 1G
Contract:
None

The bottom line: CenturyLink’s DSL internet plans are hit or miss because speeds vary by location. CenturyLink also has fiber-optic internet plans, but they’re only available in a few select areas. In all, pricing is easily the most appealing part about CenturyLink internet service.

PROS

  • Long-term discounts.
  • Two and three year price guarantees.
  • Affordable plans.

CONS

  • Limited plans to choose from.
  • Customer support misses the mark.
  • No TV offering.

CenturyLink Prices and Plans

Pricing is competitive; selection is not.

PlanAdvertised priceDownload speed
High-Speed Internet$19.95/moUp to 12 Mbps
Pure Broadband$34.95/moUp to 40 Mbps
1 Gig Internet$79.95/moUp to 1 Gig

Updated 9/14/16. Pricing and availability may change depending on location. 

CenturyLink’s internet-only selection is limited. In most areas, CenturyLink’s DSL High-Speed Internet plan (7–40 Mbps) will be the only available option. And download speed will vary because it depends on where you live. For example, CenturyLink told us we could get up to 40 Mbps in some areas, whereas other areas get only 10 Mbps. As for the 100 Mbps and 1 GB internet-only plans, they’re only available in a few select areas.

The advertised price is good for the life of the contract, which is great, but if you forget to cancel you’ll be paying the regular price, and contract length may vary. And CenturyLink doesn’t list the regular price; however, for us, the regular price was nearly double the advertised price. So when your contract is up, be ready to make a phone call and haggle for the advertised price, or find another internet service provider (ISP).

CenturyLink bundles — internet + TV/phone

PlanAdvertised priceDownload speed
Double Play$79.95Up to 12 Mbps
Triple Play$104.95/moUp to 12 Mbps

Updated 9/14/16. Pricing and availability may change depending on location. 

Adding TV and phone service is easy enough; CenturyLink offers DIRECTV or Prism TV service, and its home phone includes unlimited nationwide calling. We recommend calling and talking with an agent to get the best possible price.

What’s the real price?

CenturyLink’s advertised price is what you’ll pay for the life of the contract. However, once the contract is up, the price will jump to the “standard rate,” and standard rates aren’t listed (to be fair, most other ISPs don’t list standard rates either). For us, the price nearly doubled when the contract was up, so we had to call and ask for the old price.

The contract length depends on the promotion or whether you add other services, such as TV or phone. If you add other services, expect at least a two-year commitment. It also helps to know that specific services may have different contract terms. For example, say you get internet and TV service. Well, CenturyLink’s DIRECTV service requires a separate two-year contract, while CenturyLink’s internet service could be a one- or two-year contract.

Hidden fees

CenturyLink doesn’t have many hidden fees. CenturyLink charges an unspecified activation fee for residential internet customers; however, we found promotions for free activation. There’s also an early termination fee, but it will be specific to the service(s) you order. (CenturyLink doesn’t list an amount in its subscriber agreement.)

No matter the service, you should always ask if a fee can be waived (works for us 75% of the time).

Equipment

CenturyLink’s proprietary modem may be required for its internet service—CenturyLink says so—but it’s better if you can avoid a rental fee and use your own modem.

CenturyLink’s modem rental fee is $9.99 per month, and that’s the same price we’ve seen almost anywhere else. You can also buy the CenturyLink modem for $99.99, but it’s better to see if your current modem is compatible (check here) or buy a modem and save some money. Of course, double check with CenturyLink before you buy a modem to make sure it’s compatible.

CenturyLink internet speed and data

Download speeds are all over the board, depending on where you live.

What internet speeds do I really get? CenturyLink’s High-Speed Internet plan has a download speed of 7–40 Mbps and an upload speed of 5 Mbps. (We couldn’t find information on upload speeds for CenturyLink’s 100 Mbps or 1 G plans.)

According to the FCC’s Measuring Broadband 2015 Report, CenturyLink’s actual speeds are 84–95% of its advertised speeds. That’s not bad when compared to Windstream (78–87% of advertised speeds), for example, but other ISPs, such as Comcast, do better (94–112% of advertised speeds…yes, believe it or not, Comcast’s actual speeds tend to be higher than advertised). (The best ISPs have actual speeds close to 95%.)

We also checked Netflix to see what speed CenturyLink delivers. Netflix’s ISP Speed Index site measures “prime time Netflix performance” for major internet service providers. Here are the average speeds for ISPs, according to Netflix, for 2015. And here’s a write up we did on the best internet for streaming.

What speed is right for me?

Internet speeds are not guaranteed. The factors you should consider include multiple users, modem, and computer hardware/software. Below are the FCC’s minimum broadband speed requirements for a single user.

Activity (single user)Minimum Download Speed
Web browsing1 Mbps
Watching video4 Mbps
Video conferencing4 Mbps
Online gaming5 Mbps

CenturyLink Data Allowance

CenturyLink has a 250 GB limit for its residential internet service. Plain and simple. There is no fee for exceeding the data limit. Instead, you will receive a notification from CenturyLink that will ask you to reduce your usage or upgrade to another plan.

CenturyLink customer service and support

CenturyLink’s customer support is average for ISPs—which is to say, it isn’t great.

ASCI 2016 RatingJD Power
63/1002.5/5

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), CenturyLink is right in the middle of the best and worst ISPs. It scored a 63 out of 100, with the average being a score of 64. ACSI points out that ISPs have the lowest score for call center support than any other telecommunication service. We’re not surprised.

The U.S. Residential Internet Service Provider Customer Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power comes to the same conclusion as ACSI: CenturyLink is just barely average. It scored 2/5 and 3/5 in its respective regions.

How easy is it to get help?

If you’re having a technical issue (e.g., modem stops working), calling CenturyLink support is easy and the wait isn’t long. On the other hand, if you have a billing question or issue, your experience will likely be less than positive.

CenturyLink’s billing support service is only available Monday–Friday, 8–6 p.m. MT, which means you’ll have to call during work hours. This was a huge pain for us because we experienced long wait times and didn’t like spending our lunch breaks on the phone.

To CenturyLink’s credit, most representatives were more than willing to help us with our issues, technical or otherwise. Still, we’ll do whatever we can to avoid making a phone call.

The takeaway

If price is your biggest concern, CenturyLink internet is worth checking out…even if it could be better in other areas.

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If CenturyLink's 1 Gig Internet is available in your area, go for it.

In most areas there will only be one option: CenturyLink’s High-Speed Internet plan. You’ll have to call to see what speed is available in your area, but $34.95 per month is a good price for internet service that lets you stream movies and music without a problem.

Other options: If you want TV, internet, and phone together, the Fios Triple Play plan starts at $69.99 a month (two-year price).

Do you have a question about CenturyLink internet? Leave us a comment below and we’ll respond. Also, if you have CenturyLink internet service, let us know what you think its pros and cons are.

Find the best internet providers in your area.

  • stephanie

    Horrible. I contacted Centurylink to switch from Time Warner because they had to new prism coming out. I emailed with a lady back and forth. Multiple times I was told I would not receive an activation fee and/ or transfer fee. On my first bill I was charged a $300 activation fee. I contacted the management and they apologized for the confusion, I also showed them emails where the lady told me I would not be charged an activation fee. They said there was nothing they could do however they will make sure that the lady gets in trouble. So I set up a payment plan with someone, however they continued to charge me late fees since my bill wasn’t paid in full. Lastly upon moving I disconnected my services and they told me I would receive a bill for my remaining balance. Well guess what I didn’t instead they back dated my last bill to 11/30 and put it as past due, even though I already paid my 12/1 because thats when my last bill was due, so now I owe a late fee. This is a horrible company and the services are not even that great. They took an unnecessary amount of money from us and didn’t care one bit.

  • tws

    We have had Centurylink for over a year now. The old aol dialup was as fast or even faster than Centurylink. We have had 5 or 6 internet providers in past 15 years including aol and Centurylink is by far the worst we have had. What else can I say, It’s just junk at Any price.

  • Joseph Jarvis

    One of the worse Companies and customer service department i have ever delt… 2 separate days over 4 hrs on the phone. Over 20 different individual’s I spoke too and each time a had to explain my story, and I was a new customer. Technician never showed up first off to install service, so they decided to send the modem via usps. Still no service hooked up… never came out. I have more than 2 hrs recorded on my phone and my goal is to make a YouTube video to show the ignorance and plan lack of professionalism especially to a new customer

  • Amy

    Customer service don’t know what they doing. All they can do is keep you on hold find you another customer service and ask you account information again and keep you hold again ask account information again and again. When the finally figure the DSL is down. They said will sent tech out he next day. So I guess we can’t run our business for people with credit card.

  • Amy

    Customer service don’t know what they doing. All they can do is keep you on hold find you another customer service and ask you account information again and keep you hold again ask account information again and again. When the finally figure the DSL is down. They said will sent tech out he next day. So I guess we can’t run our business for people with credit card.

  • Amy

    Customer service don’t know what they doing. All they can do is keep you on hold find you another customer service and ask you account information again and keep you hold again ask account information again and again. When the finally figure the DSL is down. They said will sent tech out he next day. So I guess we can’t run our business for people with credit card. We been a customer with century link for over 10 years. The company don’t care about their customer. They just need to receive the payment.

  • Sharon Balthazrr

    Was just told Technician/Repairman was in my area on his way. Was scheduled for Monday… didn’t show. Then they said Wednesday. Stayed on phone with a rep for over 25 mins. saying he was on his way. Nope! How can they get away with expecting you to pay your bill when you go DAYS without service?!?!?

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