CenturyLink Gigabit Fiber is Amazing

by Colin Berkshire
Like pretty much all of Comcast’s customers, I hate Comcast. It seems to be the fundamental teaching in MBA school that you aren’t a good manager unless you get all of your customers to hate you.
So when I learned that my home was one one of the only 10 blocks in a 5 mile radius that now has Century Link gigabit fiber, I couldn’t wait to sign up.
Now, dealing with Century Link is no joy. Their support people are in Guatemala (I am not kidding!) and the Guatamala people have only very limited ability to communicate with the rest of the company. The field installation team is spotty, with a large number of lazy/inept/unmotivated people being carried by a few truly outstanding individuals. It took great persistence to convince Century Link that it was possible to get fiber into my home. (I have a spare/empty conduit from the phone pole into my basement, but the field installer marked my property as “Unserviceable” because he couldn’t see a way to string an aerial dropline. Once I was actually able to speak with an installed (on about their fourth trip out) I was able to point to the conduit that was cleverly labeled in ½” high block letters with my address.
Century Link fiber is fast. Like 940 megabits download, 940 megabits upload, and 3 ms latency. Life just doesn’t get any better!
Oh, but wait! Life does get better: It’s just $65 a month and has no installation charge.
I previously had Comcast Gigabit internet, but Century Link is soooo much faster. I have two theories on this:
  1. Low latency (3ms vs 25ms) means packets get ACK’d much faster, which allows the full download bandwidth to be utilized by a single computer.
  2. Comcast interjects themselves in the middle of my data transmissions, monitoring what I search for and what I view on there web. I suspect that this process interjects perceptible delay.
I have found Century Link Gigabit Fiber to be a stunningly good product. Like, pretty amazing. It is so good that it feels like I am in Hong Kong. (Their slogan should be: “So fast you will think you are in the rest of the world” because the rest of the world has so much faster and cheaper internet than we do in the US.)
Note that Century Link makes it surprisingly difficult to know if gigabit fiber is available. If you just go to their website and look for internet offerings their tool won’t even hint that gigabit fiber is available. (CL: Please fire marketing genius who missed that one.) You need to go to http://CenturyLink.com/Fiber and search there. It will tell you the golden truth.
At my home I use Unify gear from Ubiquiti (See UI.com). I find it is fast, reliable, simple, and affordable. So my first order of business was to ditch the router/wifi that Century Link stuck me with. It was easy to do, but there are a few tricks:
  1. Configure your router to use PPPoE as the protocol
  2. Use the UserID and password that your installer or the folks in Guatamala will give you.
  3. Set the VLAN to be 201
That’s it!
I feel so very lucky that I am one of the only 10 blocks that has gigabit fiber.
I do hope that Century Link rolls fiber out to more areas. Comcast needs a good whooping.