CenturyLink may not always be the fastest Internet option where they serve, but they’re usually the most affordable. This is especially true for customers looking for bundled internet and TV plans.
The TV part of the equation usually comes through DirecTV, but they also have their own “IPTV” digital TV service branded as Prism TV.
Most of their plans feature data caps around 1 Terabyte. Generally speaking, this isn’t as good as a truly unlimited plan. That said, it should still be plenty for a small household of Internet users and streamers.
40 Mbps Internet-Only Plan
The 40 Mbps internet-only CenturyLink deal is our top pick for most users. It is currently being offered contract-free for $45/mo, with speed upgrades in many areas. CenturyLink recently upgraded much of their service areas to reach 40 Mbps, which is sufficient to handle Netflix streaming for "cord cutters." A household of 2–5 people shouldn't run into issues using this plan. Our tests found 40 Mbps CenturyLink DSL to be more than sufficient for FaceTime chatting, Skype, multiplayer gaming, and Streaming video.
The 40 Mbps Internet plan from CenturyLink comes with a $10/month equipment fee. This fee is for the WiFi router and modem that distributes WiFi in your home. Alternately, customers may purchase the router from CenturyLink directly for a one-time price of $150 or so, which saves money for long-term customers.
CenturyLink's speeds aren't the fastest on the market, but they attempt to make up for it with remarkably straightforward pricing. The $45 of the 40 Mbps plan is a "price for life" rate, meaning you can expect to pay the same rate for years to come — unlike cable, which tends to rise dramatically once you're "hooked."
This plan has a 1024 GB data limit per month. In practice, very few customers experience any issue with this, even when streaming video daily on multiple screens and devices.
1 Gig Internet – Best Fiber Plan
CenturyLink has been investing in expanding and improving their fiber network in recent years. This is good news for customers, since those of us lucky enough to live in CenturyLink fiber areas like Portland can get access to Internet speeds in the gigabit range.
The CenturyLink 1 Gig plan is the best speed range they offer, with up to ten times the download rate of the second-fastest plan. If you stream TV in 4K on a big screen, are a serious gamer, or a "techie" who works from home, gigabit speed is the gold standard.
Centurylink is one of the few fiber providers offering month-to-month service. If you plan to use the service for multiple years, we recommend buying a gateway during the sign-up process to save an additional $10/month. This plan has a $60–125 installation fee.
Below we’ve included a list of all of the current CenturyLink plans and promotions we’ve encountered.
|Deals||Price Monthly||Internet Speed||Phone|
|40 Mbps Internet-Only Plan||$4500||40 Mbps DSL||(844) 368-6548|
|80 Mbps||$5500||80 Mbps Fiber||(844) 368-6548|
|1 Gig Internet – Best Fiber Plan||$6500||1,000 Mbps Fiber||(844) 368-6548|
|140 Mbps||$6500||140 Mbps Fiber||(844) 368-6548|
CenturyLink is usually positioned as the “budget-friendly” option. While competing cable and fiber bundles usually run well over $150 per month (or even higher!), CenturyLink bundle deals fall in a much more affordable range (ballpark $85).
CenturyLink also gets bonus points in our book for one simple reason. The company commonly waits until contracts are up to introduce “final pricing” on their promotional packages.
While the competition sets up plans so that customers are trapped paying higher rates for the second half of their contracts, CenturyLink locks-in pricing for clearly defined times so customers can easily switch if they are for some reason unhappy with the service.
CenturyLink has also been offering “price for life” plans in some markets. These can be a good option for long-term residents looking to lock in a fixed Internet and phone price.
Internet-only customersCenturyLink has a hard time competing with faster cable and fiber options for Internet-only service. If you want an Internet-only plan, CenturyLink is mainly worth considering because they’re affordable and have generous 1 TB data plans — so even if you hit buffering once in awhile, you won’t get slapped with a massive overage fee for binging on Netflix.
Internet + TV customersThis is where CenturyLink shines. Thanks to their DirecTV partnership and extensive Prism TV offerings, CenturyLink’s bundle Internet/TV plans are among the most affordable deals on the market.
Home Phone customersCenturyLink started out as a phone company, and their unlimited phone service is still one of their better features. It’s more expensive than some of the larger DSL providers when purchased alone, but the price drops within reason on bundle Internet/phone or triple-play plans.
Sports fansNFL Network and NBA TV are both available on CenturyLink’s Prism TV.
DSL Internet speeds tend to be slower and less reliable than cable and fiber alternatives. If the Internet speed is your main consideration while comparing plans, you should absolutely compare with local cable, fiber, and even fixed wireless options if they are available.
CenturyLink’s speeds are workable for the average Internet user, but power users, techies, and other intensive daily users are likely to get frustrated with the lower-than-average upload speeds. Weather also tends to affect DSL more than other technologies, since phone lines are prone to interference from weather, environment, and trees.
Again, the redeeming factor for CenturyLink is their high ceiling on data use, making them a good choice for 1–2 person “cord cutter” homes that just need basic access for streaming and surfing the web.
There are a couple snags to watch out for, though:
Tip #1: Call and Negotiate PriceCenturyLink does a good job of offering fixed-pricing periods on their promotional plans.
However, that doesn’t mean the final price is amazing. In some cases it can almost double after that first 1–2 years of service. Rather than switching or resigning to higher pricing, try calling and negotiating for a new promotional rate. If you pay your bills on time and demonstrate your value as a customer, they will sometimes work with you to find a better rate rather than have you leave for an alternative provider.
Tip #2: Watch The Equipment FeesLeasing fees on equipment like your modem and router can add up over the years if you rent them directly from CenturyLink with your plan. Information on compatible third-party models and installation instructions are available at their site.
Buying your own shouldn’t cost more than $100 and will save you a lot of money over a multi-year service term.
CenturyLink’s TV options are some of the best in the country, and thanks to their satellite partnership with DirecTV it’s available virtually everywhere.
Prism TV also gets strong marks for offering over 240 HD channels, wireless set-top box, on-demand content, and everything else you’d expect from modern digital TV service (including a whole-home DVR with 1 Terabyte of storage and the ability to handle 4 channels at once).
CenturyLink Whole-Home DVR Specs
CenturyLink only offers one option for DVR service, but it’s a decent basic DVR including the ability to record up to four shows at once with a single, whole-home device. Storage capacity is not listed on the website, but the company’s support staff tells us that the Prism DVR features a one TB hard drive.
CenturyLink offers a number of smart functions with their TV service itself, including wireless set-top boxes and an on-demand app for Android and iOS that allows you to stream recorded media and select live channels, as well as manage your DVR recordings on your smartphone.
Here’s how CenturyLink’s DVR compares to their most common competitors in the TV market, Xfinity X1:
|DVR||Storage||Tuners||Lease (May Vary)|
|CenturyLink Standard Whole-home DVR||100 hrs HD||4||Varies regionally|
|XFINITY (Comcast) X1 DVR||200 hrs HD||6||~$9.95–19.95/mo.|
Whether you have access to DirecTV, Prism TV, or both, CenturyLink makes up for average Internet speeds with very impressive TV offerings.
References and Footnotes
Disclaimers:Service and offer are not available everywhere. Rate is available to new and existing, qualifying residential customers who reside in qualifying markets where plan is available. Limited time offer. CenturyLink provided modem may be required for High Speed Internet; lease ($10/mo. fee) or a one-time purchase (up to $150) option available (S&H applies for overnight delivery, if requested). Self-installation, if available at customer’s location, may be selected at no charge. A professional technician installation fee of up to $125 will apply, if selected by customer or is required due to network technology at customer location. Credit approval and deposit may be required. Month to month (sometimes referred to as “no contract”) service means no term commitment and may be cancelled at any time without an early termination fee but customer must accept HSI Subscriber Agreement prior to using service (see centurylink.com/legal). Plan cannot be combined with other promotions. Customer must remain in good standing and offer terminates if customer changes their account in any manner, including change of address (even if plan is available), change to service, and service suspension (Vacation Program) or disconnection. Other than promotional rates, plans with monthly rates that don’t change, and monthly rates offered with a term commitment, your monthly rates for services, leased equipment, fees, or surcharges are not guaranteed and may increase during the time of your service. Additional restrictions may apply. CenturyLink may change, cancel, or substitute offers and services, or vary them by service area, at its sole discretion without notice. All products and services listed are governed by tariffs, terms of service, or terms and conditions posted at centurylink.com/terms. See centurylink.com/help for taxes. Listed internet speeds vary due to conditions outside of network control, including customer location, equipment, and access through a wireless connection, and are not guaranteed. See centurylink.com/InternetPolicy for additional network performance information.
Jessica Sims is a technology blogger and broadband industry veteran. Her background as an administrator and customer support employee for a major ISP informs her passion for helping consumers understand their service options.
James Webb is a tech and gadgets expert with a focus on educational content development. He draws on his background in the startup world to make complicated technologies and topics easy to understand for normal folks.
Questions & Answers
5 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
Do CenturyLink plans have data caps?
Most CenturyLink plans have a data cap of 1,024 GB which corresponds to 1 Terabyte. This should be more than enough for most homes, even if you stream frequently and have multiple devices. You should be able to monitor your data usage by logging in to your CenturyLink account or by contacting customer support at 800-366-8201. Learn more about CenturyLink’s excessive use policy by reading their Internet Service Disclosure.
Can I get PrismTV with a different internet provider?
CenturyLink has stopped investing in their Prism TV service and is no longer accepting new customers for Prism TV. CenturyLink now offers DirecTV service. If DirecTV is an option for you, you can order your internet and DirecTV services separately, but make sure you check with the internet provider if they offer bundled options with DirecTV that might be cheaper.
What channels can I get with CenturyLink TV?
CenturyLink Channels may differ depending on your location and type of plan. Overall, they have a decent lineup of channels including standard cable channels, entertainment, local channels, sports, and premium channels. You can check CenturyLink TV listings specific to your area here.
I have a bundled CenturyLink + DirecTV plan and I would like to cancel my DirecTV but keep my CenturyLink Internet service. Will I have to pay a fee or start my service period all over again?
Yes, you can cancel your DirecTV and keep the Centurylink internet service. While they do bundle with DirecTV, they are different companies. If you’re in a 24 mo agreement with DirecTV there would be an early termination fee (often called an ETF) associated with them.
The Centurylink internet price will usually increase around $5/month once you cancel your DirecTV service. Pricing changes will depend on your specific plan and service area.
Is CenturyLink fiber a good choice if I want to stream TV and movies?
CenturyLink doesn’t cap data use or limit streaming, so both their DSL and Fiber plans are a great choice for cord cutters. You won’t need Fiber speeds for basic streaming, but if you can afford it Fiber is well worth the step up. The speeds will be around 10x DSL and it’s excellent for upload-intensive activities such as Twitch or video chat.