Updated: October 20, 2014
CenturyLink provides services to more than three million customers throughout the United States with other services offered outside the US. The company has continued to expand with new infrastructure that provides faster performance and connectivity speeds.
CenturyLink is currently one of the largest Internet Service Providers based in the United States. Several years ago, the company was established as the result of a merger between CenturyTel, a global broadband and telecommunications provider, and Embarq, one of the largest local exchange carriers. Both companies are based in the United States and merged together to form CenturyLink.
In 2011, CenturyLink completed a merger with Qwest Communications International, another major telecommunications carrier. The acquisition of Qwest Communications propelled CenturyLink into becoming the third largest telecommunications provider in the United States and one of the largest providers of Internet services as well.
Initially, the merger caused some confusion with customers, however, CenturyLink has been growing at a rapid pace and has laid down literally thousands of miles of fiber optic cable in many different locations. Qwest Field, which is the home base for the Seattle Seahawks, has been renamed the CenturyLink Field which has allowed both Qwest and CenturyLink to collaborate on offering more than 190,000 miles of fiber optic cable, allowing the service to expand into new areas.
The growth of fiber optic networks is the result of a recent ruling by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer high speed Internet to a greater number of areas. The ruling is part of an effort to meet the requirements of new technologies and applications that rely on high speed broadband to operate efficiently.
CenturyLink provides high speed broadband Internet and telecommunications services to individuals, as well as businesses of all sizes. CenturyLink also provides high end entertainment services with television service they refer to as CenturyLink Prism TV. The Internet-based TV service is bundled together with DirecTV services to accommodate customers who are currently in locations where CenturyLink Prism TV is currently unavailable.
CenturyLink Internet Plans and Bundles
CenturyLink Internet provides a broad range of different plans and bundles to accommodate individuals, small to medium-sized businesses, and large corporations. The plans are based on the speed of broadband Internet plus, you can opt to bundle other CenturyLink services with your high speed broadband Internet plan.
With its new infrastructure, CenturyLink has been able to offer Internet speeds of up to 1GB (gigabyte) or 1000 Mbps (megabits per second) in some areas of the United States. This allows you to power all of your devices simultaneously and download video on demand from the Internet faster.
The base Internet plan known as the Internet Only plan provides connection speeds of up to 10 Mbps, requires a 12 month contract, and costs just under $40 per month. If you add other CenturyLink services into the mix, then you receive a discount on the Internet service.
The intermediate level plan offers broadband Internet connectivity speeds of up to 10 Mbps (megabits per second) for just under $30 per month. This plan saves you $10 each month when you add home phone service and requires a 12 month contract. Like the base Internet plan, you receive a discount on the monthly fee when you bundle other Century Link services with the Internet service.
The third plan provides you with the vest value and does not require any contract. This plan costs just under $20 per month, requires you to bundle a qualifying home phone plan, and provides connection speeds of up to 10 Mbps.
All Internet Plans
If you have multiple users connecting to the Internet simultaneously, it is a good idea to go with one of the higher end Internet plans which offer faster download speeds than the base or intermediate plan. There are two high end plans the first of which is the 3.0Mbps download plan which you can obtain for just under $35 per month and the 10Mbps plan which costs just under $40 per month.
Both of the higher end plans are also offered at a discount when you bundle other CenturyLink services with the Internet plan of your choice. If you watch a lot of Internet TV or stream videos, one of the two high end Internet plans is recommended since these applications require high speed broadband Internet in order to function properly.
All CenturyLink Internet plans are offered with multiple email accounts and Web-based email access when you add a phone that is Internet capable. The email also includes unlimited storage plus, you receive your own browser page that you can customize to quickly access applications that you use on a regular basis.
If you decide to use more than one service through CenturyLink, it is best to go with the bundle offers. This provides you with the services you need while saving money on your monthly bill. The bundle offers are as follows:
Bundle with Home Phone: This package provides you with a high speed Internet connection and a choice of calling plans that meet your requirements. There is no contract and you can enjoy a price lock for up to three years.
Bundle with Internet: This package allows you to start with a 40 Mbps (provided this connectivity speed is available in your area) download speed. Then you can add DirecTV service through CenturyLink or Verizon Wireless 4G LTE service. If you choose the DirecTV service, you receive a free upgrade to Genie which is DirecTV’s latest DVR device and three months of Starz, HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime for free.
Create Your Own Bundle: This is a customized package that allows you to bundle your services according to your preferences with a lower price and price guarantee. You can choose to bundle four different services which include a phone calling plan that suits your needs, high speed Internet (up to 40 Mbps in connectivity speed in specified areas), DirecTV service with a free upgrade to Genie which is DirecTV’s latest DVR device, three months of Starz, HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime for free, and access to Verizon Wireless 4G LTE service. This plan requires you to include Internet or phone service as one of your services.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area that is equipped with faster broadband connectivity of 40 Mbps for download and 5 Mbps for upload, the higher end packages are not a bad deal. Otherwise, in some areas the connectivity speeds are not very impressive which can make media streaming a hassle depending upon how slow the connection is.
CenturyLink Prism TV
CenturyLink also offers a service known as Prism TV is only available in areas that are equipped with high speed fiber optic. Since CenturyLink implemented Prism TV, it has continued to expand this offering as the company has grown through mergers and acquisitions.
Prism TV is CenturyLink’s own cable television service and does not require you to purchase any additional equipment such as a satellite dish. The service also provides much faster connectivity speeds than typical cable TV or satellite television.
CenturyLink Prism TV utilizes what is known as Internet Protocol Television or IPTV which allows you to integrate multiple devices such as your television, PC, mobile devices, and other wireless units to provide more control and customization over the technology system. Essentially all devices communicate through Internet Protocol (IP) so they all speak the same language. The result is complete customization and personalization that can be controlled from one location.
IPTV allows for interactivity through two-way communications, as opposed to a satellite or cable connection that only offers one-way communications. With IPTV you can view programming that you recorded on your DVR from virtually any device in your home, as well as connect other devices to the network for improved interaction and personalization.
CenturyLink offers several different Prism TV plans, in addition to the opportunity to bundle services together.
Prism Essential: This is the basic Prism TV package that provides you with a whole home DVR which is free for the first three months, 140+ channels, and free high definition TV for three months. The monthly cost is just under $50 or $79.94 per month when you bundle it with Internet service.
Prism Complete: This package provides you with access to over 190 channels, free whole home DVR for 12 months, and free high definition TV for six months at a cost of just under $65 per month. If you add Internet service, the monthly cost is $94.94 per month.
Prism Preferred: Prism Preferred represents the best value at just under $80 per month with access to more than 290 channels, whole home DVR, high definition channels, and premium channels. When you add the high speed Internet service, the cost is just under $110 per month.
Prism Premium: This plan provides you with access to more than 320 channels, whole home DVR, high definition channels, and premium channels at a cost of just under $110 per month. If you add the Internet service, the monthly cost is $139.94.
With all of the above packages, you receive a standard set-top box that is DVR and high definition ready. A wireless set-top box can be added at an additional cost plus, there is an activation fee to launch the service.
CenturyLink and DirecTV
Several years ago, DirecTV formed a partnership with Qwest Communications. The partnership has remained throughout the merger between CenturyLink and Qwest Communications. When customers order CenturyLink services, they are also offered DirecTV satellite services. Customers who do not yet have access to Prism TV are offered DirecTV as an alternative when they bundle services together.
CenturyLink previously partnered with Dish Network before forming an alliance with DirecTV. Part of the deciding factor was the fact that DirecTV offers DVR services, as well as a variety of different sports packages. DirecTV also provides CenturyLink customers with a way to access cable channels by choosing one of the packages and then bundling it together with other CenturyLink services.
CenturyLink Smart Home
One of the newer services provided by CenturyLink is home automation that is powered by CenturyLink high speed broadband Internet. The home automation services feature technologies such as lighting control, video monitoring, home security, temperature regulation, and other services that you can control from any device, regardless of where you are located.
The CenturyLink Smart Home system is offered in three different plans that include Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
Silver: The Silver plan is available for just under $35 per month and provides you with professional monitoring services around the clock, access to the system via tablet PC, web browser, and smartphone, SMS text and email alerts, motion detection, lighting and small appliance control, key fob, three sensors, and smartplugs. Cellular backup is free for the first three months.
Gold: The Gold package is offered at a cost of just under $50 per month. This plan provides you with all of the services we mentioned in the Silver package plus, your choice of thermostat control or camera monitoring. The cellular backup service is free for the first twelve months.
Platinum: The Platinum package provides you with all of the services in the Gold plan at a cost of just under $55 per month. Additionally, you have access to a camera, touch screen control panels, and a choice of an additional camera or electronic door locks. The cellular backup service is free for the first 24 months.
CenturyLink also offers a variety of add-ons that are available at an additional cost. The add-ons include a variety of wireless sensors, heat, smoke, and CO detectors, Z-Wave automation modules, keypads, remotes, and a selection of home management accessories.
How It Works
For CenturyLink Smart Home installation, you can choose the package that meets your requirements, select any add-ons, and add the service to your CenturyLink Internet package.
Once you have chosen a package, you will be contacted by a CenturyLink Smart Home representative to schedule an installation time. Once the hardware is installed, the representative will go through the system with you and provide you with a tutorial to refer to if you have any questions.
The Silver and Gold packages require a one-time installation fee of $199. If you choose the Platinum package, the installation fee is $499. The standard equipment is included with an additional cost for any add-on equipment you choose for customization.
To learn more about CenturyLink Smart Home, there is a series of videos that describe some of the key features offered in the Smart Home service on the CenturyLink website. The company also demonstrated a series of CenturyLink products earlier in 2014 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas, Nevada.