Last year CenturyLink started offering 1 Gbps to a smattering of high-end development communities in places like Omaha and Las Vegas
, but has been pretty ambiguous about just how many users can get the service. Last August they stated they'd be offering 1 Gbps speeds in parts of sixteen cities
(including Seattle, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City), but again, specific build locations and total potential subscriber numbers have been nowhere to be seen.
It's what I affectionately call "fiber to the press release." Vastly cheaper than a major deployment yet still technically not nothing
, it allows companies to insist they're on the cutting edge of broadband deployment despite the fact the vast majority of their customers are puttering along on circa-2003 DSL lines with low usage caps
(see our user reviews
). Still, the company this week hinted
they may extend 1 Gbps outside of these initial launch markets, someday:
"We're going to continue on with our GPON deployments" for both consumer and business broadband services, said CenturyLink COO Karen Puckett. "We like the halo effect" from the gigabit launches in the early markets.
By "halo effect," Puckett means they like the fact that the 1 Gbps announcements help give the PR impression that CenturyLink is spending aggressively on infrastructure upgrades, despite the fact the lion's share of their product lineup is notably far from cutting edge. Meanwhile, despite the fact most of majority of the company's customers are lucky to get even 6 Mbps, CenturyLink says the FCC's new 25 Mbps broadband definition shouldn't really impact them:
"The new definition doesn't really impact us in a significant way," said CenturyLink CEO Glen Post. "We're selling solutions, not just speeds. It won't impact our investment."
That's in part because while the FCC's 25 Mbps mark is useful, there's really not going to be a lot of teeth in supporting in (ie: ISPs don't get fined or something if they offer slow service). The metric's primarily going to be used as a high-water mark in policy discussions. It's also worth noting that companies can still get government subsidies for rural broadband deployments if they offer speeds of at least 10 Mbps.
Back in August Centurylink announced that the company would be offering 1 Gbps service in portions of Denver, though the company refused to say how many subscribers would see the service
, or just what neighborhoods would get the upgrades. In recent weeks they've started offering more detail, stating they're offering the service in sixteen neighborhoods in the Denver "city core."
CenturyLink is offering the 1 Gbps service for $151.95 a month with a two year commitment, or $124 a month when ordered with CenturyLink landline phone services. The specific neighborhoods, according to CenturyLink
Gigbit speeds are currently being offered in the Baker, Bonnie Brae, Belcaro, Cole, Congress Park, Corey Merrill, Overland, Park Hill, Platt Park, Rosedale, Stapleton, Washington Park East, Washington Park West, University, University Park and Villa Park neighborhoods, CenturyLink said.
The ISP's primarily focused on higher end housing developments where fiber's already in the ground and deployment costs are low. The company still isn't stating how many subscribers can get, or have signed up for, the faster service.
Netflix today released their ISP streaming performance ranking for December
, which offers performance data based on the 53 million global Netflix viewers and the two billion hours of content they watch each month. There wasn't too much of a shake up in this month's ranking, with Verizon FiOS continuing to top the list after they struck an interconnection deal with Netflix last year.
Several CenturyLink customers have e-mailed me to note that the company is reaching out to users with a not-so-welcome holiday gift: rate hikes in the new year. According to the notification being sent out to users, standalone broadband customers can expect to start paying $2 more per month in the new year, while bundled phone and broadband customers will see a $1 increase. story continues..
The New York Times
recently explored the statewide protectionist bans paid for by incumbent ISPs that hinder or outright prohibit communities from building their own networks. As we've long covered, these bans don't really care if ISPs aren't willing to service these same areas, and some even block public/private partnerships.
The National Advertising Division (NAD) is telling CenturyLink to stop lying
when they compare their Internet speeds versus those offered by Comcast. As noted previously NAD is essentially an industry self-regulatory firm that avoids regulatory intervention by settling marketing disputes in house.
A report at Bloomberg
states that CenturyLink is expanding the company's cloud position with a potential acquisition of Rackspace Hosting. According to the report the deal may or may not actually go through, but talks have been ongoing for some time. CenturyLink acquired hosting provider Savvis back in 2011
, and last year acquired Tier 3. Rackspace has been conducting an internal review of its options after being approached by numerous suitors earlier this year.
It's fairly obvious that Google Fiber's entry into the broadband market has made significant waves. While the actual deployments have been limited (with only just Kansas City significantly online just yet), the service's very presence has rekindled debate over the abysmal state of broadband competition in the United States. story continues..
In the company's filing with the FCC opposing the Comcast merger
(via Ars Technica
), CenturyLink accuses the cable giant of making it difficult to obtain franchise agreements and compete with the company across numerous markets. CenturyLink complains that Comcast has been "uniquely and extraordinarily aggressive" in blocking the telco's expansions into new markets, sending letters to the handful of local franchising authorities where CenturyLink is trying to expand its Prism TV
While Verizon's legal victory over the FCC did gut the agency's net neutrality rules, it kept some of the FCC's authority over ISPs intact -- specifically the agency's transparency rules
-- which require that ISPs be straightforward about the "network management practices, performance, and commercial terms" of their broadband services.
In a statement issued today
, the FCC "reminded" wireline and wireless ISPs alike that those rules are still intact and need to be adhered to, lest the agency lightly slap a wrist or two -- maybe.
Back in 2011 the FCC began collecting real-world user broadband data from customized routers, then issuing reports on which ISPs were failing to deliver advertised speeds. It's one of the few FCC policies in recent years that has truly paid dividends for consumers. story continues..
The United States' largest community fiber broadband effort is Utah's UTOPIA, which has been under assault by large incumbent ISPs like Qwest
(now CenturyLink) since before the first customer was even connected. UTOPIA has for much of a decade successfully fended off both these ISPs and a good deal of managerial incompetence on their own part, and is on the cusp of securing a significant cash boost
from an Australian investment firm.
CenturyLink's solution to a customer base that continues to flee traditional phone service? Raise rates! Users in our CenturyLink forums
notes that CenturyLink is now charging customers $5 a month
(up from 75 cents) if you don't want your number published in the directory. In addition to paying $60 a year to be relatively anonymous, calling directory assistance will now cost all users $3 per call.
Why? CenturyLink tells the Tacoma News Tribune
it's because everything's just so competitive:
CenturyLink spokeswoman Jan Kampbell said the WUTC decision “was based on the extraordinary level of competition that CenturyLink faces in today’s telecommunications market...As with other industries, CenturyLink must reflect rising costs in the rates it charges its consumers."
Except the costs to provide POTS and DSL over copper to customers has been dropping for a decade (while revenues from broadband have risen), and competition should help keep prices low, not drive them upwards. In reality, it's a lack of real competition and the fact that many of these users are elderly that lets CenturyLink get away with nickel and diming users, whether that's charging $60 a year for privacy, or imposing nonsensical fees like their recent $1 "Internet Cost Recovery Fee
" or $1.50 "Non Telecom Surcharge
How many times has this site written stories of customers begging and pleading with their local internet companies for faster speeds all the while those internet companies release PR pieces telling the world that those customers don’t really need or want such speeds? Example 1
, Example 2
and Example 3
Enter CenturyLink in Boise, Idaho
Netflix has released the company's latest month rankings
of ISP Netflix streaming performance. Not too surprisingly, the results show that Comcast Netflix streaming performance has improved two spots after Comcast and Netflix last month struck a new interconnection agreement
that eliminated middlemen like Cogent Communications from their transit routes.
Netflix today released their latest ISP streaming rankings
, which, as the name suggests, track the average performance of all Netflix streams on each ISPs network. The latest report shows that Verizon (both FiOS and DSL), AT&T U-Verse and Mediacom all slipped in the rankings, while Time Warner Cable, Bright House, Windstream, Centurylink and Clearwire all saw performance improvements.
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