- Some of the most affordable fiber plans you can find with CenturyLink's Fiber internet
- Unlimited data and no contracts required, so no worries about cancellation fees or overage charges
- DSL speeds can vary wildly based on address and sometimes fall below what the FCC deems as "broadband"
- Overall plan selection is limited based on your address
In this article
- CenturyLink internet availability
- CenturyLink home internet plans and prices
- Fiber speeds are fast, but DSL, not so much
- Other aspects of CenturyLink internet to know
- CenturyLink's customer satisfaction numbers
- The bottom line and FAQs
Available in 37 states, CenturyLink Internet may be best known for its former Price for Life deal. But my first introduction to the company was in 2011 with CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. I thought CenturyLink was a bank or maybe even an insurance company. It turns out it's one of the country's largest internet service providers, available to over 49 million customers across the country, according to Federal Communications Commission data.
In September 2020, CenturyLink (and the stadium it sponsors) rebranded itself to Lumen Technologies (no, not that). The CenturyLink brand still exists as the name of its internet service offering. If you live in the Northwest (and are perhaps one of the 12s, as Seahawks fans are lovingly called), or in any other states where CenturyLink is available, it might be one of your top home internet options.
CenturyLink offers customers either a digital subscriber line or fiber-optic internet service. Ground-laidis much faster than phone line-based , so your speeds will vary significantly depending on what's available at your address. Of the 37 states it services, CenturyLink provides its Fiber Internet to 25, so not all its customers will have access to those faster speeds. If you do, don't hesitate to dive in -- it's one of the most affordable fiber plans you can find across the country. But if DSL is your only option, you might find your internet experience lacking.
To start, here's where CenturyLink internet is available
You can find CenturyLink home internet service in 36 states across the US.
According to a spokesperson for Lumen, "Fiber is currently available in about 50% of our footprint, including, Portland, Salt Lake City, and Springfield, Missouri," with additional cities planned throughout 2022. That list includes , Omaha, and , among others.
CenturyLink home internet plans and prices
CenturyLink currently offers DSL internet plans, with speeds up to 140 megabits per second or a 100% fiber network featuring two available plans. A Lumen spokesperson told CNET that the company is continuing to invest and expand its fiber footprint, so it will continue to unveil its Fiber Internet to new markets this year.
CenturyLink plans and pricing
|Plan||Max speeds||Monthly cost||Equipment fees||Data cap|
|Price for Life 20||20Mbps download, 2Mbps upload||$50||$15 for modem/router rental (optional)||None|
|Price for Life 40||40Mbps download, 3Mbps upload||$50||$15 for modem/router rental (optional)||None|
|Price for Life 60||60Mbps download, 5Mbps upload||$50||$15 for modem/router rental (optional)||None|
|Price for Life 80||80Mbps download, 10Mbps upload||$50||$15 for modem/router rental (optional)||None|
|Price for Life 100||100Mbps download, 12Mbps upload||$50||$15 for modem/router rental (optional)||None|
|Quantum Fiber 200||200Mbps download, 200Mbps upload||$50||$15 for modem/router rental (optional)||None|
|Quantum Fiber Gigabit||940Mbps download, 940Mbps upload||$65||$15 for modem/router rental (optional)||None|
CenturyLink offers just a handful of the above plans for many of its available addresses. In a few areas, you may have only one choice. That's unusual among ISPs, who offer three to five different plan options at most addresses.
As to the value of the plans offered by CenturyLink, the average cost per Mbps for the DSL plans is $1, which is a highly competitive rate for that particular connection type. By comparison, the average price per Mbps of the DSL plans offered by, and is $2.44. I should note that I'm comparing the regular rates, not promo costs, because CenturyLink doesn't do promo pricing. The price you get at the start is the price you'll have after your first year.
On the fiber side, the average cost per Mbps of the Fiber Gigabit plan is 7 cents, which is significantly less expensive than the cable gigabit offerings from, and (all between 12 and 14 cents) and the gigabit fiber plans from AT&T, Frontier and Verizon, which all hover around 9 cents.
It should be noted that as it currently stands, CenturyLink's fiber plans are some of the best values you'll find on home internet.
Fiber speeds are fast, but DSL, not so much
If the Fiber Internet plans are available in your area, CenturyLink's internet service is plenty fast. You'll find symmetrical download and upload speeds, which means better performance for work (no glitchy Zoom calls or frozen FaceTime frames) and play (less lag during online gaming and no issues streamingin 4K).
That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that CenturyLink fiber isn't available at every address in the footprint. Service is only available via DSL in many regions, which lags well behind fiber and cable speeds and performance.
For example, if you head to the speed-testing website Ookla, you'll find a Speedtest Intelligence metric that tracks the fastest ISPs based on median download speeds. Its most recent scores, taken during the first quarter of 2022, list CenturyLink in sixth place behind Verizon, Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum and AT&T Internet. That might not seem too bad, but consider that the five providers above it averaged approximately 166Mbps. CenturyLink rang in with a paltry 41Mbps, in comparison.
The gap isn't quite so vast when you turn to Ookla's Consistency Score, which looks at how often a provider delivers broadband speeds to its customers. While CenturyLink again came in sixth place, it notched a 57.4% score to the other five's average of 86.98%. Similarly, not stellar, but not as stark a difference as the previous comparison.
Lastly, according to the FCC's most recent, January 2021, report on fixed broadband performance, roughly 40% of CenturyLink customers experienced download speeds greater than 95% of the advertised speed, while another 40% or so reported speeds that fell between 80 and 95% of the advertised number. That leaves over 20% of the customer base reporting speeds less than 80% as fast as advertised.
That's in harsh contrast to cable and fiber providers such as Cox,, Verizon and Xfinity, for whom 93-99% of customers found their performance equal to or better than 95% of the advertised download speed. To be fair, the FCC numbers only tested CenturyLink DSL plans and none of the fiber plans, so the numbers are strongly skewed towards the lowest speed tiers that CenturyLink offers.
Other aspects of CenturyLink internet you need to know
CenturyLink requires monthly prepayment to offer you its competitive prices and no-term agreements. But this also means no credit checks. Here are a few more details to consider when evaluating CenturyLink's internet service.
Additional monthly fees
Like many other ISPs -- including Spectrum, Verizon and Xfinity -- CenturyLink allows you to avoid a modem or router rental by using your own device. You can check the list of CenturyLink compatible devices, but if you decide to go with your gear, you won't be eligible for CenturyLink's free 24/7 tech support.
Going with CenturyLink's equipment will add $15 a month to your bill. One thing to note from the small print -- the monthly equipment fee does not fall under the previous Price for Life deal, so it's possible that portion of your bill could increase during your time of service.
While there's no charge for self-installation, not all addresses are eligible for that option. CenturyLink will charge $99 for professional installation if that's the case at your place. In some instances, that fee may go up to $125. Additionally, you can expect a one-time broadband activation fee of $20 when you begin service.
If you wanted to avoid paying the additional monthly equipment fee, you could opt to buy the CenturyLink modem for a one-time fee of up to $200.
Lastly, CenturyLink currently has an online offer for new gigabit customers -- free installation and no charge for the CenturyLink modem. That's a solid value of $299.
No data caps on any plans
In previous years, CenturyLink reserved its unlimited data for DSL plans only. Now, as part of the rollout of its Fiber Internet plans, CenturyLink includes unlimited data with all fiber plans, too. That's a significant change and means you won't need to keep an eye on your data usage or worry about gobbling up too many gigabytes before your billing cycle is over.
CenturyLink's customer satisfaction numbers are middle of the road
Although CenturyLink saw a significant 7% increase in its 2020 American Customer Satisfaction Index score by earning 63 out of a possible 100 points, it took a small step back by notching a 62 in the 2021 results and then yet another move in the wrong direction with the. Granted, the ISP industry as a whole took a dip in 2022. But it's discouraging to see CenturyLink trending in the wrong direction and sitting four points below the overall industry average of 64/100 for all ISPs.
For the 2021 J.D. Power US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study, CenturyLink scored 674 on a 1,000-point scale in the South region and 708 in the West. Those scores are below the industry average for those regions and below what CenturyLink scored last year. On the plus side, J.D. Power positioned CenturyLink above , Cox, Mediacom and Frontier in the West region. Like the ACSI data, it suggests that CenturyLink is a solid but unspectacular, middle-of-the-pack performer in terms of customer satisfaction.
The bottom line
CenturyLink scores top points for its affordable, high-speed Fiber Internet product. It's available in more states than any other provider's fiber packages and you'll be hard-pressed to find better rates. Once you add unlimited data for all speeds, you've got a compelling product.
But some of that enthusiasm is dulled once you realize that more than half of customers will only see CenturyLink's DSL plans -- and in some cases, those speeds are barely above the broadband minimum of 25Mbps download. As you'll often hear from us, the true worth of a service will depend significantly on your address and which provider plans are available in your area, and CenturyLink is no exception.
CenturyLink internet FAQs
What is CenturyLink Price for Life internet?
The CenturyLink Price for Life internet deal covered all plans up to 140Mbps. It's no longer available to new customers, as CenturyLink now has unlimited data for all plans and speed tiers. Customers who signed the Price for Life deal still have it, but be aware that any change to your account -- including switching speed tiers, moving to a different address, etc. -- will nullify your previous agreement.
How do I get in touch with CenturyLink customer service?
CenturyLink customer service can be reached in several ways. You can find assistance online at the CenturyLink Customer Support Center or you can use the CenturyLink chat function. Also, you can do it the old-fashioned way and give it a call at 866-642-0444.
Does CenturyLink internet offer any deals or promotions?
CenturyLink isn't big on running short-term promotions and deals. Customers can get additional savings by ordering online -- including, in some cases, free modem purchase and tech install -- and by choosing paperless billing and prepay options. Currently, there's a limited-time offer of a $100 MasterCard gift card for new customers who sign up online for service.
Is there a CenturyLink data cap?
For the most part, no. CenturyLink used to reserve unlimited data for its DSL plans, but since unveiling its Fiber Internet brand, the unlimited data cap also extends to the fiber network. That said, the deal is available for new customers only. Existing customers may still be tethered to previous data cap limitations.
What is Lumen Technologies and did CenturyLink buy it?
Lumen Technologies was not an acquisition but is a rebranding of CenturyLink that occurred in September of 2020. Many home internet customers will still see the CenturyLink brand for their services, while others will begin to see the Quantum Fiber name later in 2022.