CenturyLink offers excellent fiber internet, but it’s available only in limited markets. If you can't get fiber, you may be able to get a DSL connection but you'll pay nearly as much.
Local internet service providers (ISPs) sometimes lack a certain something. They might be expensive or fail to reach the speeds of national providers. Omni Fiber wants to buck that trend with speedy internet at an affordable price and the promise of local customer service, but can it deliver? Spoiler alert—yes, it seems it can.
CenturyLink offers two types of plans, depending on your location. The more common option is DSL, which is relatively slow and offers inconsistent speeds. The other option is fiber, which is extremely fast and reliable.
Generally speaking, the DSL options are not a great value. The price is reasonable, but the speeds mean you’re likely to get more for your money elsewhere (this is true for many DSL providers). The fiber plans are a much better value—they offer much more speed for the money than CenturyLink’s DSL plans and are competitive with other providers’ fiber offerings. In fact, CenturyLink's 940 Mbps plan costs a little more than half of the national benchmark for similar plans (1). We highly recommend CenturyLink fiber if you have it available.
Omni Fiber offers excellent value. All three plans are competitively priced—the 1 gig plan is on par with the most affordable options we’ve reviewed, and the 2 gig plan is actually the most affordable plan of this speed we’ve seen from any provider. In addition to the low package prices, you also get equipment included at no extra cost, which further increases the value of the service.
There’s a performance divide based on the type of service available. The CenturyLink DSL plans can range from 15 to 100 Mbps, which is a wide range. Additionally, 15 Mbps just isn’t great these days. It doesn’t even reach broadband speeds (25 Mbps or more). That said, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting the advertised speed—whatever plan you sign up for, you seem to get what you pay for with CenturyLink.
On the other hand, the fiber plans offer Gigabit speeds (up to 940 Mbps), which is excellent. Additionally, fiber internet offers synchronous download speeds and upload speeds, meaning you can game, video chat, or upload large files just as fast as you binge Netflix. Fiber also tends to be inherently reliable because of the way the technology works—the light signals in fiber optic cables can carry more information over longer distances than coaxial cables. We have no complaints about performance on these plans.
Omni Fiber performance is outstanding. Speeds are fast, with plans ranging from 500 Mbps to 2 Gbps. All three plans feature symmetrical upload speeds, which means the upload speeds are equal to the download speeds—this makes a huge difference for sharing content, particularly large files like videos. For reference, a typical upload speed for a cable provider is one tenth of the download speed (and often quite a bit lower). Finally, all Omni Fiber customers get unlimited data, which is a big thumbs up in our book.
CenturyLink installation is more or less on par with other providers in terms of installation procedures and costs. If your neighborhood is wired for only DSL with CenturyLink, you can have your internet service set up by a pro for somewhere between $129 and $300 based on the installation requirements. You can alternatively choose to do a self-install for $15.
If you live in an area wired for CenturyLink fiber, your pro installation and equipment rental are free, and you may be able to self-install for free. You could also wrangle unlimited data and an included mesh wireless network if you sign a contract, so be sure to ask. This is about on par with other fiber internet providers.
Find out whether you need a professional to come by or if you can handle setup yourself.
As for equipment, the CenturyLink modem and router are also pretty standard stuff. The company charges around $15 per month for equipment rentals for DSL customers. The gear is nothing to write home about, but it works. You can also buy the modem outright from CenturyLink for up to $200—whether this is a good deal for you depends on how long you plan to have CenturyLink as a provider.
We don’t particularly recommend buying your own router. Both the DSL and fiber services require a modem certified by CenturyLink to function, so you may as well save some money and use the built-in wireless router.
Omni Fiber’s equipment is fairly standard. The provider offers two choices: a standard gateway that’s free of charge, and a Whole Home Wi-Fi gateway you can upgrade to. The standard version, which Omni confusingly calls “premium Wi-Fi,” is a standard Wi-Fi modem and router, while the Whole Home version uses extenders to cover larger areas. It’s recommended for homes larger than about 2,000 square feet.
Mesh networks tend to work a little better than Wi-Fi extenders, but we still think the Omni Fiber system will be adequate for most homes. If you want to use your own equipment, you'll need to make sure it's compatible with a fiber connection but either way, there's no extra charge!
Omni Fiber also gets high marks for installation. There is no installation fee or other cost involved, and the technician will ensure your equipment is properly placed to cover as much of your home as possible. The only potential concern is that Omni Fiber is still building out its infrastructure, so—depending on where you live—there may be some additional construction involved.
CenturyLink consistently scores slightly below average in customer satisfaction (2), largely due to complaints about a lack of responsiveness regarding customer service. The service also gets a lot of complaints from new fiber internet customers, but complaints are very common industry-wide.
CenturyLink hires techs and contractors from around the country, so some inconsistency is expected. It redeems itself slightly, though, with an easy-to-use support page.
The company is expanding and we hear that many new cities will have fiber internet hookups from CenturyLink within the next few years. If you can get only DSL, though, you may have a connection as slow as 3 Mbps or one as fast as 100 Mbps, with huge variation in latency depending on how far you are from the nearest access point.
We like that CenturyLink provides DSL to customers who may have no other option, but we don't recommend the DSL offering if you have access to cable or fiber internet from another provider.
If there’s an area to be cautious with Omni Fiber, it’s customer experience. The provider promises personal, local customer support and service to its subscribers. However, remember that this is a relatively small company that is still building and growing. Omni also doesn’t have the same resources as national companies when it comes to providing support—for example, there’s no chat option yet.
On the other hand, local customer service certainly sounds better than the automated and outsourced support many large providers offer. Omni Fiber also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is promising.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that Omni Fiber is a very new company. While this isn’t inherently a bad thing, there could be growing pains. Issues like billing problems or service outages could crop up as the company gets its infrastructure sorted out.
Omni Fiber will be available first in the Ohio towns of Clyde, Dover, and Shelby. It plans to expand to small and mid-size markets in the Midwest "as quickly as possible," CEO Darrick Zucco said in a press release in August of 2022. (1)
The company, founded in 2022, has not yet been studied by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in either its annual performance tests (2) or its rate study (3).