CenturyLink nixes DSL usage caps after yearlong trial, credits affected customers

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CenturyLink has about 6 million internet subscribers, but can't provide 1 Gbps FTTH to all of them, particularly in rural Washington. Image: CenturyLink

CenturyLink has had a change of heart about implementing usage caps on its low-speed DSL users, stopping a one-year trial in Washington state.

The service provider said the usage-based metering is not in line with its efforts to provide clear plans on how to charge for its DSL services.

“Because this approach no longer aligns with our goal to simplify offers and pricing for our customers, we have decided to end this program, effective May 3, 2017,” CenturyLink said in an announcement on its site.

RELATED: CenturyLink to begin metered billing trial of DSL users

A key part of this latest announcement is that it will give bill credits to customers in Yakima, Washington, who were charged overage fees during the trial.

“If you incurred overage charges related to this program, those charges will be credited and appear on your June or July monthly billing statement,” CenturyLink said. “No action is required on your part, and there are no impacts to your existing CenturyLink service."

In July 2016, CenturyLink launched a metered billing trial focusing on select DSL customers in Yakima. The company imposed a 300 gigabyte-per-month cap and overage fees of $10 for each additional 50 GB.

The telco also imposed usage caps that ranged from 150 to 250 GB depending on the speed of a customer's line. However, the telco did not charge users penalties if they went over their monthly allowance.

It appears that CenturyLink won’t impose overage fees to other locations in its service footprint. CenturyLink has about 6 million internet subscribers.

Broadband customers must still abide by CenturyLink’s "Excessive Use Policy" that limits customers to 150 GB or 250 GB a month and "reserves the right to disconnect your service after the third month of excessive usage in a rolling 12-month period."

CenturyLink said that broadband customers that go over the limit won’t be automatically disconnected. The service provider said it "encourages" customers to either decrease their usage or upgrade to a higher speed before taking any drastic action.

Consumer fears about being kicked off their broadband service for excessive usage isn’t entirely a fictional issue.

In 2013, a DSLReports article described how one of the publication’s forum members’ service was shut off for excessive data usage. At that time, the user said that he did not receive a warning before being disconnected, adding that CenturyLink provides no tool to track usage.

What’s interesting about CenturyLink’s usage caps overall is that the telco does not impose the Excessive Use Policy on users that subscribe to its much faster 1 Gbps FTTH service.

But the reality is that a large majority of its broadband users can only get access to slower DSL speeds delivered over its copper-based networks. CenturyLink, which has applied the 150 GB limit to customers that subscribe to 1.5 Mbps speed tiers, considers issues like "network health" and "congestion" as part of the decisionmaking process to disconnect a customer for excessive usage.