As we have long expected, CenturyLink has screwed low-income Americans and put a bullet through the head of its Internet Basics program.
This is how it was announced on the CenturyLink website’s Internet Basics page:
“The CenturyLink Internet Basics program is only available to residents in the states of Oregon, Tennessee and Washington.”
In other words, they attempted to euthanize the Internet Basics program. It still clings to life in three states, but is in increasingly critical condition.
Three states is a far cry from what once was. Here’s how CenturyLink announced Internet Basics back on October 3, 2011:
CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL), one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, today introduced CenturyLink Internet Basics to improve and promote broadband adoption and use by low-income consumers.
To help get more low-income households online, CenturyLink is offering discounted High-Speed Internet service starting at $9.95 a month, plus applicable taxes and fees, to eligible consumers in the 37 states where it has local operations. The service provides access up to 1.5 Mbps downstream capability. Higher bandwidth services, where available, are offered at a comparable discount.
And here’s a complete list of those states quoted from our Internet Basics page:
Where is Internet Basics Available?
Internet Basics is available in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
We recently visited the CenturyLink website to search for news on the Internet Basics program. The least the company could do, we thought, would have been to issue a press release informing the world that it had walked (run?) away from this important program.
Alas, it appears that CenturyLink abandoned Internet Basics in the dark of night and wanted to keep that retreat just as quiet as possible.
Are we being too harsh in our assessment? Hardly. We used the search function on the CenturyLink website in an attempt to find information on the demise of Internet Basics. Although they offer up an impressive history of 449 press releases on website, not one of them references any recent news about Internet Basics. To repeat, not one.
Try it yourself and see if you can find one. Here’s the link: http://news.centurylink.com
Internet Basics: CenturyLink’s ugly, red-headed, bastard stepchild
We have made no secret of the fact that CenturyLink has always been our least favorite provider of low-income internet plans. Here’s a quote from an article we wrote about Internet Basics back in 2014:
CenturyLink started the Internet Basics program as a sop to the Federal Communications Commission. In order to gain FCC approval for their purchase of Quest Communications. It agreed to offer low cost internet access, low cost computers and free computer and internet training to low income Americans. It was one of the conditions of that approval.
After viewing the results generated by CenturyLink’s Internet Essentials, we can only draw the conclusion that CenturyLink is doing the bare minimum necessary to keep the Federal Communications Commission regulators at bay, then explaining away the dismal numbers by saying, “Sorry. Things were tougher than we expected.” Maybe that wasn’t the scenario, but it’s all we can imagine with the limited information they’ve given us.
As we were researching the article quoted above back in 2014, we exchanged emails with a CenturyLink representative. It was clear from that rep’s non-responsive responses that CenturyLink intended to do the absolute minimum that was required of them by the Federal Communications Commission — that they would put a minimum of dollars into the program, that they would promote it as little as possible, that they would starve it of the manpower it required to be successful.
Consider the following question we asked and the CenturyLink rep’s answer:
4. What are your longterm plans for Internet Basics?
As a service provider, CenturyLink is supportive of the Federal Communication Commission’s National Broadband plan to help ensure that consumers within CenturyLink’s service areas have access to affordable Internet service. The Internet Basics program was initiated in support of that effort. CenturyLink has made a commitment to make its discount plan available until October 1, 2017. At any time until October 1, 2017, a qualifying customer may enroll in this service plan once, and he or she may choose a term of as little as one year, which may be extended at the customer’s option on a month-to-month basis for as long as five years.
Some astute readers may find that October 1, 2017 date significant. Consider the fact that one reader first notified us of the program’s demise as far back as November 1, 2017:
“This program ended September 2017,” a CheapInternet.co reader reported. “…nowhere in the link does it provide this information to the customers. Very disappointed after submitting all my personal information via fax.”
But hardly surprising.
We requested comments from CenturyLink’s public relations staff and from its investor relations department. Neither of them chose to answer our questions.
So please allow us to end this article the same way we ended our 2014 article that was headlined: “CenturyLink’s Internet Basics is not living up to its potential.”
If CenturyLink would care to respond to this article, we would be happy to run the full response here at CheapInternet.com.