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).
40 Mbps Internet-Only Plan
- Price: $45.00/mo
- Internet: 40/--Mbps
- No Contract
- Setup Service: (877) 862-9343
This plan is the best cord-cutter plan for a small household of up to five people. If the primary way you consume TV is through Netflix on a laptop propped up in bed, the 40 Mbps plan is hard to beat. Keep in mind it has a data cap, so if you watch 2+ hours per day you should call and ask about their TV bundle options. This plan has free self-installation, or up to a $125 fee for technician assistance (will depend on location and existing wiring in home).
- 40 Mbps download speed
- Free self-install
- Price-lock on current promotions
PROTIP: If you are setting up new service, try calling (877) 862-9343 first. As of this writing, this phone number skips the queue and lets you speak directly with an agent.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Free set-top box for Prism TV bundles
- Netflix-friendly download speeds
- DirectTV bundles come with NFL SUNDAY TICKET
- Prism TV bundles are rather expensive
- Internet speeds lower than cable
- 1–2 year contracts
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).
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.
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.
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.
-- 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.