Cable and telecommunication companies continue to consolidate, and the competitive battlefield is changing in certain regions. Qwest was the dominant phone and internet provider in the western portion of the country, but now CenturyLink has moved in with a recently completed buyout. That means Comcast and CenturyLink are now going head to head in many major markets like Seattle and Denver. What do these providers bring to the table when it comes to high speed internet and cable TV service? Lets review your options.
Comcast vs CenturyLink
Most people today are looking for a fast and reliable internet connection to their home or apartment, usually before they even consider getting home phone service. Both Comcast and CenturyLink are vying for to be your internet provider, as that is often the gateway to the customers pocketbook in other areas like video or phone service. Many are unwilling to settle for a 1.5 Mbps connection these days, as streaming video services like Netflix and YouTube videos require much more bandwidth. So which provider is best for internet service – CenturyLink or Comcast?
Comcast has been re-branded as Xfinity internet in many areas where the network has been upgraded. With Xfinity Performance you get speeds up to 15 Mbps and with Xfinity Blast you will top out at 25 Mbps in certain markets. Xfinity tops CenturyLink when it comes to the ultra high speed internet option, as their Extreme products offer speeds of 50 and 105 Mbps, though at an extremely high price which can send your internet bill up to $200 a month.
CenturyLink inherited the Qwest fiber optic network as part of their purchase, and many neighborhoods now offer speeds up to 40 Mbps. Most CenturyLink internet packages revolve around their basic package, which is just 1.5 Mbps, generally not fast enough to support video streaming. What you lose in speed you make up in monthly savings, as they are generally cheaper than Comcast for internet service. Several CenturyLink package deals offer internet for just $14.95 for a month for 12 months when you bundle. Other deals offer a package including CenturyLink phone and high speed internet with a price lock for five years. Deals vary depending on your area so its best to call or visit their website where you can plug in your address and find special offers.
So who wins when you compare CenturyLink vs Comcast internet? If its a low price you want, then you are better off with the phone company. For more speed, Comcast is probably going to have more to offer.
Now if you are looking to bundle internet with video service, CenturyLink and Comcast are very different in what they can offer the residential customer. Comcast uses a traditional coaxial cable network to deliver service, while CenturyLink TV is offered a couple of different ways. Their own video service is called Prism TV, but this is only available in about 10 markets currently, none of which are in the former Qwest territory. In most cases if you are looking at the video option from CenturyLink, it is going to be satellite TV service. CenturyLink formerly partnered with DISH Network, but in 2010 they changed over to DIRECTV, who had partnered with Qwest for more than five years before the merger.
So in reality its going to be more of a comparison between Comcast and DIRECTV if you are shopping for a video provider. Comcast has certain advantages in that they offer better video on demand service as well as plenty of high definition channel content. DIRECTV has more sports programming including access to NFL Sunday Ticket and other out of market sports packages like MLB Extra Innings. The disadvantage with DIRECTV of course is that it requires the installation of a satellite dish, which is difficult and sometimes impossible for some living in condos or apartments.
Both CenturyLink and Comcast are going to offer the customer a better deal if they bundle multiple services. Here are a few prices if you are looking for a basic bundle from either provider – which would include a basic cable service without premium channels, a home phone line, and an entry level high speed internet connection.
The Comcast triple play with these services is the Starter XF, currently offered at $99 a month for one year with a two-year contract. This deal gives you 80 digital cable channels along with the Xfinity Performance internet product. This deal also includes a $100 Visa rebate card and free Showtime for three months, along with free installation as well.
The comparable offer from CenturyLink would be the Triple Savings bundle, which is priced at $89.95 a month for the first year. Here you are also committing to a two year contract, but it is just on the DIRECTV piece of the package. Unlimited local and long distance calling is included here as well as with the Comcast deal. After one year you will pay the regular package rate with both CenturyLink and Comcast, so its a good idea to ask lots of questions when signing up to get an idea on what kind of rates will apply after the first year.
Finally, review any contractual terms and conditions before signing on the dotted line with Comcast or CenturyLink/DIRECTV. Cable and satellite TV companies know the value of a new subscriber, thus they are eager to lock you into a deal lasting at least a year or two. While this can save you some money over regular pricing, it can hard on your pocketbook if you have to break the contract because of a move or other reason. Hefty early termination penalties can be assessed if you can’t live up to your end of the deal, so its best to have all of the facts up front.