CenturyLink's 40 Mbps broadband in former Qwest markets reaches only 20% of rural customers

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CenturyLink's (NYSE: CTL) acquisition of Qwest may be long behind it, but the service provider has a ways to go in enhancing the copper last-mile networks in these acquired regions to reach everyone: only 20 percent of rural customers get 40 Mbps or more.

In a recent FCC filing of its Semi-Annual Report on Broadband Deployment, the service provider reported that 50.1 percent of customers in "non-rural" areas of the former Qwest territory can get up to 40 Mbps speeds.

That isn't to say that CenturyLink hasn't been upgrading speed tiers in these areas. The service provider reported gains with its 1.5, 5 and 12 Mbps offerings. Over 95 percent of non-rural Qwest customers can get a 1.5 Mbps connection, while 79 and 70 percent of customers can get a 5 and 12 Mbps connection.

Likewise, it increased the amount of rural customers that could get these speeds. The service provider offers 1.5 Mbps services to 83.1 percent of its customers, while over 60 percent can get 5 Mbps and nearly 47 percent can get 12 Mbps speeds.

CenturyLink said these numbers reflect the percentage of households served by DSLAMs supplied various suppliers such as Adtran, Alcatel-Lucent (now Nokia) and Calix.

However, since these are copper-based services, CenturyLink said in a FCC filing that "a small percentage of these households in some areas may not be able to obtain CenturyLink broadband services on demand, due to capacity constraints in the network."

Increasing the availability of higher speed copper services continues to be a key priority for CenturyLink. However, the service provider is swimming against a tough tide of broadband subscriber declines, a theme that continued into the fourth quarter of 2015 as it tightened its credit policies.

As a result of the new credit policy it implemented in mid-year 2015 -- one that targets users who sign up for service and don't pay their bill -- subscribership declined by about 22,000 during the quarter.

For more:
- see this FCC filing (PDF)

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