CenturyLink Business Internet Review: 2018


Free 24/7 technical support and a combination of business software and high-speed internet that won't break the bank—CenturyLink offers a sensible option for your small businesses.

Overall Rating3 / 5
Plan prices starting at $54.99/mo.
DSL plans up to 100 Mbps
24/7 technical support
Poor industry ratings

Like the Little Engine That Could, CenturyLink has chugged along for decades, expanding its communication and technology services throughout the United States. If you’re looking for small business internet to keep your company on track, CenturyLink has a few reasonably priced plans.

CenturyLink is best if you need an affordable plan and always-available tech support

We compared CenturyLink DSL internet costs to other business internet service providers. CenturyLink emerged as one of the most affordable.

Although some providers offer a wider range of plan speeds and costs, CenturyLink offers a few solid plans at prices that won’t bludgeon your budget. The most expensive plan—Business Internet 100—is cheaper than the same speed plan offered by both AT&T and Comcast.

Recommended CenturyLink Business Internet Plans

PlanStarting priceRecommended forLearn more
Business Internet 40$84.99
  • Fewer than 10 employees
  • Moderate backups and file sharing
  • Basic point-of-sale
Check Availability
Business Internet 100$104.99
  • 10+ employees
  • Heavy large-file backups and sharing
  • Frequent streaming
  • Public Wi-Fi
Check Availability
Strengths
  • Affordable DSL plans
  • Bundles with DIRECTV
  • Symmetric fiber speeds
  • 24/7 technical support
Weaknesses
  • Few upper-level DSL speeds
  • Sparse fiber availability
  • No static IPs available

Data effective 01/26/18. At publishing time, pricing and speeds are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

 

Things to know about CenturyLink internet plans

There’s more to business internet than just DSL plans, so we wanted to show you a complete picture of CenturyLink’s services. Because the company focuses its small-business internet plans on companies with up to 10 employees, that’s where we focused this review too. CenturyLink lumps larger businesses in with its medium and enterprise market segment.

We showed you our favorite plans, so now let’s get to the details—warts an all. CenturyLink has a few things to like and several to hold your nose for.

CenturyLink Business Internet plans and pricing

CenturyLink offers two types of business internet service: digital subscriber line (DSL) and fiber-optic. The tables below break down CenturyLink’s small-business plans by internet speeds and pricing (if available).

DSL internet plans

CenturyLink’s most affordable business internet options are its DSL plans, which the company simply names “Business Internet.” The plans range in download speeds from 10 to 100 Mbps.

PlanStarting price (per month)Max download speedLearn more
Business Internet 10$54.9910 MbpsCheck Availability
Business Internet 20$64.9920 MbpsCheck Availability
Business Internet 40$84.9940 MbpsCheck Availability
Business Internet 100$104.99100 MbpsCheck Availability

Data effective 01/26/18. At publishing time, pricing and speeds are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Very small businesses that don’t need a ton of online computing power can get by with the slower plans in the 10 to 20 Mbps range. The monthly prices for these plans aren’t too high, which means they are a reasonable option if you’re looking for basic internet.

CenturyLink also gives you free tech features with most business plans, including two licenses for Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials and 20 GB of data backup. These perks are great for new businesses that need some basic technology to improve their operations.

If you need more speed—say, for downloading large files or streaming video—you should consider CenturyLink’s upper-tier plans.

CenturyLink also gives you free tech features with most business plans, including two licenses for Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials and 20 GB of data backup

Unfortunately, we couldn’t track down down upload speeds for any of CenturyLink’s Business Internet plans. Upload speeds matter if you need to do a lot of file uploading or conduct video conference calls because slow uploads can lead to interruptions for these services.

Our recommendation: before you sign up for any CenturyLink Business Internet plan, ask about the plan’s max upload speed.

Anything below 1 Mbps is too low for most businesses. But unless you expect your operations to demand a lot of uploading power, you can likely get by with upload speeds in the 1 to 10 Mbps range.

Fiber internet plans

Like most other major internet service providers, CenturyLink has been building a fiber-optic network to deliver speeds faster than any DSL connection. For now, some details about CenturyLink’s fiber service—like pricing and specific availability—are murky.

Click the links in the table below to check if fiber is available in your area and to ask CenturyLink for a quote. But for now, here’s what we do know, starting with a list of plans.

PlanMax download speedMax upload speedLearn more
Fiber + Internet 50/5050 Mbps50 MbpsCheck Availability
Fiber + Internet 100/100100 Mbps100 MbpsCheck Availability
Fiber + Internet 500/500500 Mbps500 MbpsCheck Availability
Fiber + Internet 1,000/1,0001 Gbps1 GbpsCheck Availability

Data effective 01/26/18. At publishing time, pricing and speeds are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Fiber is famous for its capability to provide true gigabit internet—that’s a thousand megabits. Speeds this blazingly fast are great for uninterrupted, complicated online work.

CenturyLink fiber plans also boast symmetric speeds, which means their upload speeds match their download speeds. This is a godsend for businesses that need to connect many users, upload large files, and run demanding online point-of-sale systems—all with minimal lag.

To find out if CenturyLink fiber is available for your small business, visit this site and enter your ZIP code. As details about CenturyLink fiber become more available, we’ll be sure to update you.

CenturyLink Business Internet bundles and packages

CenturyLink lets you bundle your business internet service with phone and TV products. If you need to equip your employees with a phone system or entertain your customers with TV, consider one of these affordable bundles.

Phone bundle: Internet + voice

  • DSL internet download speeds from 20 to 100 Mbps
  • Unlimited nationwide calls with voicemail
  • Prices starting at $84.99 per month

TV and phone bundle: Internet + voice + TV

  • Triple Play: internet + voice + TV
  • Internet download speeds up to 20 Mbps
  • Unlimited nationwide calls with voicemail
  • 80+ DIRECTV digital channels
  • Prices starting at $109.98 per month

Technology and extras

CenturyLink entices business customers with a few perks that can make running your company a bit easier. These extra technologies are included with many CenturyLink plans and bundles:

  • Up to 10 licenses for Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials: Go beyond the personal Microsoft Office suite and get access to tools like email, calendars, file sharing and backups, online conferences, team sites, and more—all synced to the Cloud so you can work from anywhere.
  • Website services: Register your business’s domain name with up to 5 GB of data, search engine listing, and online faxing.
  • Online backups: Securely back up 10 GB of your precious business data to the Cloud for up to 20 devices.

Watch out

Static IPs are a must for businesses that host their own servers or use remote access for employees and vendors. This is a feature CenturyLink lacks, so be careful if you use services that rely on an unchanging IP address.

Reliability and support

Modern businesses rely on internet for many day-to-day functions, from communication and collaboration to point-of-sale transactions and customer service. Here’s how internet from CenturyLink stacks up to competition for reliability and support in case of trouble.

CenturyLink uptime reliability

You’d like your internet to work 100% of the time, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, no service provider can realistically guarantee perfection. CenturyLink agrees to 99.9% uptime for its business internet plans,* which according to our research is the industry standard.

This 99.9% uptime translates to about 43.8 minutes of downtime in a one-month period. That shouldn’t worry too many customers. On the other hand, if your business would be seriously impacted by an internet outage, you may want to find a company like Verizon that offers a higher guarantee.

Based on conversations we had with several providers’ customer service representatives, these are the current uptime guarantees in the market:

GuaranteeDowntime per monthDowntime per year
99.9% (CenturyLink DSL; AT&T Fiber*)43.8 minutes8.76 hours
99.95% (Verizon DSL*)21.9 minutes4.38 hours
99.99% (Verizon Fiber*)4.38 minutes52.56 minutes
99.998% (Comcast*)52.56 seconds10.51 minutes

*Uptime guarantees confirmed from online chat conversations with internet service provider representatives.

CenturyLink business support

Here’s one bright area of this review: technical support. CenturyLink offers 24/7 technical support for business internet plans and packages—a vital lifeline in case you experience a serious outage or problem.

What’s more, you can purchase remote IT support starting at $19.99 per device per month to get even faster and more detailed service.

CenturyLink internet reviews and ratings

How do industry leaders and customers rate CenturyLink service? The answer is somewhere between below average and so-so. Let’s look at a couple different factors.

  • American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI): In 2017, ACSI rated customer satisfaction with CenturyLink at 59/100—down six points from the previous year but higher than Frontier Communications.1
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB): The BBB, which uses customer complaints to form its ratings, gave CenturyLink a B grade, noting that the company had “failed to resolve underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.”2

These results are a bit disheartening. But if CenturyLink can better respond to customer complaints, there’s definitely room to improve the company’s reputation.

The fine print

Let’s get down to details: here are some of the fees you might have to pay, contracts you might have to sign, and hardware you might have to buy to get CenturyLink business internet.

Fees

No one likes hidden fees, but CenturyLink is up-front about the extra fees you have to pay to sign up or make changes to your service.

  • Activation fees: You pay $99 to activate a new business internet connection.
  • Installation fees: The standard fee is $59.99 for CenturyLink to install your services. No word on whether you can avoid the fee by installing the equipment yourself.
  • Early termination fees: Depending on your plan, you could pay fees between $200 and $400 for canceling your service outside of your contract.

Contracts

The DSL plans we could find all require a two-year contract to get the prices we show. You also must agree to automatic payments and electronic billing to get those prices. Fiber plans may have different contract requirements, but we weren’t able to track those down.

Equipment

To get up and running, you’ll need to purchase or rent a modem from CenturyLink. You can own the modem outright for $99.99, or you can lease it monthly for $9.99.

We wondered whether you can use your own modem, but we were again unable to confirm an answer.

FAQs about CenturyLink business internet

We discovered a few frequently asked questions about CenturyLink from current and prospective customers. You’ll find our research-backed answers to some of these questions below.

Why did CenturyLink acquire Qwest and Level 3?

CenturyLink has gone through several changes over the last few years, including expanding its footprint and market share through acquisitions.

You can own the modem outright for $99.99, or you can lease it monthly for $9.99.

In 2011, CenturyLink acquired the larger Qwest Communications for $12.2 billion.3 At the time, both companies were focused on phone services, but the merger likely helped the newly formed corporation expand its internet capabilities.

More recently, CenturyLink merged with Level 3 Communications, combining their technology prowesses to serve even more customers and businesses throughout the globe.4

Where is CenturyLink business fiber available?

We can’t pinpoint exactly where CenturyLink sells business fiber yet, but according to this site, you may be able to find it in some areas within these cities:

  • Columbia and Jefferson City, MO
  • Denver, CO
  • La Crosse, WI
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN
  • Omaha, NE
  • Orlando, FL
  • Platteville, WI
  • Portland, OR
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Seattle, WA

What’s the difference between DSL and fiber internet?

Internet technology has grown leaps and bounds since the days of dial-up connections. Today, high-speed internet comes in a few forms, mainly digital subscriber line (DSL) and fiber-optic.

Just need the basics? Connect one or two employees to run email, messaging, and point-of-sale systems—starting at $54.99 per month.

DSL internet uses existing copper wire phone lines to provide internet to business and residential customers. Download speeds using DSL connections range from a few megabits per second to, in rare cases, a couple hundred Mbps.

Although it uses ordinary phone lines, the internet connection via DSL doesn’t interrupt the phone services like traditional dial-up connections. A downside to DSL is that speeds and reliability can be affected by the physical distance between connections. In addition, DSL upload speeds rarely come close to download speeds, leaving some modern technology services at risk for gaps and lags.

Fiber-optic internet, or simply fiber, uses some of the best technology available to deliver internet speeds many times faster than the average DSL speeds.

Fiber connections offer fewer interruptions and more bandwidth for uploads. But fiber internet hasn’t expanded to cover as many customers as DSL (yet) and prices can be much steeper.

The takeaway

CenturyLink business internet plans are an affordable choice for small businesses that need low to average speeds.

If you have anything to say about CenturyLink business internet, please tell us! Whether you want to share your own experience with the company or have a question, leave a comment or your own review below.

Disclaimers

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources

1. American Customer Satisfaction Index, “Press Release Telecommunications 2017
2. Better Business Bureau, “CenturyLink
3. Washington Times, “CenturyLink completes $12.2B acquisition of Qwest
4. CenturyLink, “CenturyLink completes acquisition of Level 3