As Centurylink Eyes Usage Caps, Its Speeds Fall Behind the Curve

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While CenturyLink has been talking a lot about broadband upgrades, a new filing with the FCC suggests the company has a long way to go before it even begins delivering 40 Mbps speeds to the majority of its overall footprint. According to the new filing (hat tip, Fierce Wireless), just 47.6% of its rural users can get speeds of 12 Mbps, and just 21.9% of rural users can get speeds of 40 Mbps. Those numbers get slightly better for “non rural customers” at 71% and 51%, respectively, but it’s clear the telco has work to do.

Cable has been absolutely demolishing telcos at quarterly broadband additions, adding 99% of all net additions the last few quarters.

That’s largely thanks to a lack of next-generation speeds at phone companies. Companies that either don’t want to upgrade their networks due to limited competition, or can’t afford to upgrade their networks thanks to debt-loaded deals to acquire Verizon and AT&T’s unwanted DSL customers. This growth-for-the-sake-of-growth pleases the company’s investors, but holding on to frustrated customers has proven difficult.

And while CenturyLink has crowed a lot about very limited gigabit availability, the company’s chart makes it abundantly clear a huge chunk of its users can’t even get speeds the FCC technically deems broadband: 25 Mbps or higher.

CenturyLink says that it’s trying to offer gigabit connections in more markets, but believes that the majority of its customers simply don’t need anything that fast. Speaking on an earnings call last April, CenturyLink CEO Glen Post made the case that 100 Mbps was more bandwidth than most customers need. The problem is that most of CenturyLink’s users can’t get those speeds either, and even according to CenturyLink’s likely optimistic projections to the FCC, won’t be able to anytime soon.

Worse, perhaps, CenturyLink is now looking to hit these users with new overage fees that will make these existing slow connections more expensive than ever. And customers are responding by leaving the telco in droves, Centurylink losing 65,000 customers last quarter alone.


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