CenturyLink offers some of the cheapest Internet and TV plans around. That said, these deals come with a lot of fine print attached.

The main decision you need to make is whether to opt for their “Prism TV” digital TV service, or to bundle with DirecTV instead. CenturyLink has a partnership with DirecTV that allows them to offer discounts for satellite TV of around $10/month.

My two cents: go for the DirecTV bundles if you have space for a dish, especially if you’re an NFL fan (DirecTV has exclusive access to NFL Sunday Ticket).

CenturyLink Internet Plans

PlanPriceSpeed
10 Mbps$45.0010mbps
Business Internet 12$64.9912/1.5mbps
40 Mbps$55.0040mbps
100 Mbps$65.00100mbps
1000 Mbps$85.001,000mbps

CenturyLink Double and Triple Play Deals

PlanPriceTV PlanSpeedPhone
Double Bundle$114.99Prism Essential TV10mbps
Triple Bundle Unlimited$154.99Prism Essential TV10mbps
Double Bundle$124.99Prism Essential TV40mbps
Triple Bundle Unlimited$164.99Prism Essential TV40mbps

Installation, Setup, and Usage for CenturyLink TV Plans

Woman on laptop using wifi.
CenturyLink provides stronger download speeds in rural areas than what you can get from satellite providers like Exede. Image via Unsplash

One quirk to be aware of with Centurylink is that they often ask for access to the outside of your house during the two days preceding service so one of their techies can check the outside wiring. (AKA that box outside the house where the telephone line comes in.) In some cases they will briefly turn off existing phone service in order to run checks on the wiring.

When the check-up is complete, the technician will leave a door-hanger on your door letting you know about the appointment time and how to prepare.

Pre-Installation Checklist

  • Make sure you know which devices (TVs and PCs) require Prism services.
  • You must ensure that an adult over the age of 18 will be present during the installation.
  • In case you rent or lease, you have to get property management approval.
  • If possible, move your furniture or entertainment centers away from the wall to make it easier for the technicians to access the cables and run wires if necessary.
  • If you have an existing service, CenturyLink recommends you don’t cancel it until after Prism is installed.
  • If you have wiring in your attic, the technician might need access it. So, open the attic door three hours prior to the installation to ventilate the area.

On the day of the installation, the technician will go over the entire process with you to make sure you’re okay with everything. The technician will evaluate the wiring in your home to see if any additional wiring is necessary.

Once everything is in order, they’ll first start installing the WiFi router or gateway, and then handle the TV service, set-top boxes, and DVR.

As for how long the installation takes, in my experience the 4–6 hours they quote is overkill, but you may as well take off a few hours around it just to be safe.

DVRs

CenturyLink has two main DVR options: the Genie HD DVR and the Whole Home DVR.

As the name suggests, the Whole Home DVR is basically a DVR for your entire home. You can watch and record multiple shows at once, and access your recordings from any room in your house. You can also pause live TV from any room, and control the DVR remotely. It’s hard to live without once you’ve tried it.

The Genie HD DVR is CenturyLink’s most advanced DVR, and also has “whole home” functionality. It can record five shows at once, store 200 hours of HD programming, lets you watch and record shows from any room in your home, and offers you full HD DVR functionality on every one of your TVs. If you add a wireless Genie Mini (basically a DVR extension) into the mix, you can even do all those things from outside of your home.

Set-Top Boxes

CenturyLink uses wireless set-top boxes for Prism TV, so you don’t have to mess around with wires and cables behind the TV.

Modems and Routers

CenturyLink offers modems for a monthly rental fee of around $9.

If you opt for their Prism deals, you’ll get a router that acts as a wireless access point and also provides firewall protection to any devices connected to your Prism service. Their routers tend to be mid-range devices that are suitable for a medium-sized home.

Some larger homes will require powerline extenders or other networking add-ons to reach all parts of the building.

How to Save on CenturyLink Fees

Connect desktop and gaming devices to your router via ethernet to reduce ping and boost speeds.

If you have a modem, you should first see if it’s compatible with CenturyLink’s network. If it is, I recommend using your own modem instead of getting one from CenturyLink, as you’ll have to pay around $10/month for it.

I also heard from some of their customers that you can purchase the CenturyLink Modem for approximately $150. If you don’t have a modem and don’t know where to get the right one, consider buying it from CenturyLink instead. Otherwise, it’s easy to wind up with something used of eBay that doesn’t quite work right.

If you’re up to it, you should think about doing a self-install. While CenturyLink does offer installation services, they generally cost anywhere between $60 and $99 (pricing can vary according to your area). Only the CenturyLink’s DirecTV deals come with a free installation (as far as I’ve been able to find out), so if you don’t pick those deals, you should consider this option.

CenturyLink does offer helpful tutorials (here’s one for the Prism WiFi set-top box, and one for their modems/routers), so you won’t be on your own.

CenturyLink Bundles: Should I go with Prism or DirecTV?

Pros

  • Free set-top box for Prism TV bundles
  • Netflix-friendly download speeds
  • DirectTV bundles come with NFL SUNDAY TICKET

Cons

  • Prism TV bundles are rather expensive
  • Internet speeds lower than cable
  • 1–2 year contracts
I really liked the fact that CenturyLink’s DirectTV bundles include the NFL SUNDAY TICKET which is not something you’ll see many other providers offering.

Also, when you order their bundles online, CenturyLink will offer you a $100 prepaid card ($150 with Triple Play deals). I would have rather seen a discount or free installation, but this little perk is nice too. And if you choose a Prism bundle, you also get one set-top box free for one year (you’ll get to save around $120 this way).

Two players trying to stop the one who holds the football.
One area where DirecTV trumps Prism is in sports content, with exlusive access to NFL Sunday Ticket and other sports packages. Image via skeeze/Pixabay
While Prism TV bundles do offer that perk, it’s also worth noting that said bundles are not very cost-efficient. In fact, they are quite pricey. What’s more, the Internet connection speeds that come with the bundles aren’t very impressive. In fact, in some cases, they might not even be available in your area, according to CenturyLink’s fine print.

Another thing I didn’t like was the fact that most bundles require you to sign a one or two-year contract. The only bundle I found to not require any contract was an offer for phone and Internet services.

All in all, if you’re mostly interested in TV services, I recommend just choosing their stand-alone TV packages — especially since their DirecTV plans actually include a free professional installation.

CenturyLink Deals: Variety for Everyone

CenturyLink’s Best Feature: Consistent Pricing
Unlike every other Internet company out there, CenturyLink will offer “price for life” pricing on some of their plans — or, at least, not jack up the price 50% after the first year. A CenturyLink customer I interviewed while researching this article vouched that they’d been paying the same price for eight years.
Fortunately, CenturyLink offers enough TV packages for everybody. If you don’t mind paying more money and want to enjoy high-tech features and fiber connections, Prism plans have got you covered. And if you’d rather choose a cost-efficient TV plan, you can do just that with CenturyLink’s DirecTV plans.

In case you’re not fully certain CenturyLink Prism TV is the right choice, I recommend checking out DirecTV’s deals or Dish’s packages. As for the Internet, it isn’t as fast as cable, but the price is decent compared to the usual rates for DSL.

CenturyLink Disclaimers

10 Mbps -- CenturyLink Excessive Use Policy The CenturyLink Excessive Use Policy (EUP) uses a 1.0 terabyte (TB) monthly data usage limit. This limit applies to all uploaded and downloaded data for all residential CenturyLink High Speed Internet (HSI) customers except for those excluded below. Of the millions of CenturyLink HSI customers, very small fractions exceed the data usage limit provided with their monthly HSI plan. CenturyLink is committed to providing an optimal Internet experience for every customer we serve. It is for this reason that CenturyLink places data usage limits on residential plans. The data usage limit applies to residential HSI. It does not apply to business-class HSI. Residential 1 Gbps plans are also not subject to data usage limits. The HSI and video traffic of Prism® TV service customers is also not subject to the CenturyLink EUP. Any residential customer receiving discounted HSI service under a program to promote broadband adoption in low-income households is also not subject to the data usage limit. CenturyLink does not currently charge customers a fee for excessive data usage. CenturyLink will weigh variables such as network health, congestion, and the availability of customer usage data as factors when enforcing this policy. Customers who have exceeded their monthly data usage limit and are subject to EUP enforcement will be notified by CenturyLink via web notification and/or written communication. Customers who are subject to EUP enforcement are given options to reduce their usage, subscribe to a higher-speed residential HSI plan, or migrate to an alternate business-class HSI service. Our EUP is application neutral; it only considers the total usage (bytes transferred) over a defined period of time independent of protocols, applications, or the content that is generating the excessive usage. Customers who repeatedly exceed the EUP usage limit, and interfere with other customers' use of HSI service, are subject to the CenturyLink HSI terms of service. For additional detail about the EUP, view the questions and answers (PDF). http://www.centurylink.com/aboutus/legal/internet-service-disclosure/full-version.html http://www.centurylink.com/asset/aboutus/downloads/legal/internet-service-disclosure/excessive-use-policy-faq.pdf http://www.centurylink.com/aboutus/legal/internet-service-disclosure/consumer-short-version.html

Double Bundle -- Double Bundle Price For Life for your Internet with no promotional pricing and no contract! 2-year pricing for Prism with 24-month contract.