The speeds and prices of broadband plans available from CenturyLink and Suddenlink vary from area to area, with some households open to “gigabit” service and full fiber connectivity. Picking the right provider for your needs will be a question of deciding whether you want to pay a premium for the highest speed or take a discount for a more average plan.
CenturyLink is a communications company that provides DSL and fiber Internet, phone, and TV service. Their TV offerings are marketed under the name “PRISMTV.”
Centurylink offers internet, TV, and phone service to consumers using two primary technologies: DSL and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH).
DSL is an older internet technology that uses Centurylink’s existing telephone infrastructure to deliver internet service. While DSL networks don’t offer the fastest speeds or lowest latencies, they are widely available and generally less expensive than other alternatives since they travel over the same cheap, readily available cables that carry telephone data.
If you are considering DSL, make sure to check the speeds available in your area as they can vary dramatically depending on your local infrastructure and distance between your house and the provider’s local office.
Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), on the other hand, is widely considered the next generation of consumer internet access. In an FTTH implementation, Centurylink delivers a fiber optic connection directly to your residence, resulting in higher bandwidth and lower latency. The only problem with FTTH is that installing fiber optic cables are expensive, so this type of service is not widely available and usually comes with a higher monthly cost than DSL, cable, or fixed wireless.
Suddenlink is a cable broadband provider offering Internet and TV in addition to phone subscriptions. The company uses an advanced hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) network to deliver download speeds up to 1,000Mbps (1Gb) in some areas, comparable to fiber.
Broadband Internet offerings from Suddenlink come via their hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) network, alongside TV and phone plans. While less future-proof than a true “fiber” network, Suddenlink’s HFC network is optimized to deliver speeds that rival fiber, up to 1,000Mbps.
Hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) networks work by bringing optical fiber cables as far as individual neighborhoods or subscriber areas, only switching over to existing coaxial copper TV infrastructure for the “last mile” between the node and subscriber residences.
The upcoming DOCSIS 3.1 protocol for delivering broadband Internet data via coaxial cable promises to make high-speed Internet available to even more consumers in the near future without expensive upgrades to existing coaxial networks in use.
Check the fine print before jumping aboard
Broadband communication companies provide complex services, and those complex services come with equally complex fees. The big ones to be aware of are ETFs (early termination fees) and limited-time pricing. ETFs matter particularly for consumers who anticipate relocating regularly, including renters, students, and etc.
The best-priced plans often include ETFs and multi-year agreements so the provider knows they can make a profit even if the margin on your particular connection is not hugely profitable for them. Additionally, shoppers should be sure to compare and account for the “final price” of plans, not just the limited-time sign-up offer. Sign-up offers can save you money, but ultimately the final price matters more if you’ll be staying with the same provider for years.
Modem rentals aren’t something you have to have
Modem rentals are a common offering for Internet providers, providing them with a stable source of low-cost revenue while streamlining the installation and upkeep process for customers. It’s a win-win for people who don’t want to mess with the home network or move too much for owning hardware to be practical, but it’s a losing proposition for everyone else.
First, check with your provider about which makes and models of modem/router are compatible with their network. Second, pick a model that can handle the bandwidth you’re paying for. The savings on rental costs should pay for it within the year, and after that it’s a simple way to save $100 or so per year.