CenturyLink slow internet is a common issue that hampers productivity and entertainment, with over 60% of users experiencing lower-than-promised speeds. This guide will pinpoint why your CenturyLink connection lags and provide efficient solutions to enhance your internet performance.
Stay tuned for techniques on diagnosing throttling, evaluating network congestion, and optimizing your home setup for faster, more reliable internet.
Key Takeaways – Summary
Why is My CenturyLink Internet Slow?
There are several key culprits that can slow your CenturyLink network, including:
- Data throttling – CenturyLink slows down heavy bandwidth users during peak congestion times and imposes a 1TB monthly data cap on most plans. Exceeding this limit can result in penalties that temporarily limit speeds to unusable levels until the next billing cycle. Constant video streaming risks hitting the threshold.
- Excessive bandwidth usage: Streaming, downloads, VPNs, and more can eat up bandwidth and cause throttling. Going over your data cap also triggers slower speeds.
- Network congestion: Peak usage times, temporary outages, or excess demand in your area can strain CenturyLink’s network, slowing all connections.
- Local network issues: Faulty wiring, outdated equipment, interference, and WiFi dead zones cause in-house slowdowns.
- Hardware/software glitches: Firmware bugs, misconfigured routers, and malware also impact performance. Simple fixes often resolve these.
To effectively troubleshoot your connectivity issues with CenturyLink, it is important to understand the potential sources of the problem.
Step-by-Step Solutions to Speed Up CenturyLink Internet
Here are 16 practical ways to diagnose connection issues and boost slow CenturyLink internet speeds:
- Power Cycle Your CenturyLink Modem/Router
- Switch to Ethernet Instead of WiFi
- Manage Connected Devices and Bandwidth Usage
- Reschedule Large Downloads and Updates
- Run Antivirus and Malware Scans
- Clear Browser Cache and Update Software
- Eliminate Router Interference
- Verify No Internet Outages in Your Area
- Switch Router Frequency Band from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz
- Update Router Firmware
- Reset Network Adapter Settings
- Limit App Background Bandwidth Usage
- Reset CenturyLink Modem/Router to Factory Defaults
- Upgrade Outdated Network Equipment
- Enable Quality of Service (QoS)
- Add a Whole Home Mesh Network
1. Power Cycle Your CenturyLink Modem/Router
Power cycling or rebooting your networking equipment is the easiest fix for software glitches that slow connectivity. Follow these steps:
- Locate your modem and router and unplug both from the power outlets.
- Wait 30 seconds before reconnecting power.
- Give the modem several minutes to fully reboot before reconnecting devices.
A quick reboot often resolves temporary glitches and connectivity problems. If speeds remain slow, investigate further.
2. Switch to Ethernet Instead of WiFi
Wireless signals face interference from objects and electronics, limiting bandwidth and speeds, especially over long distances. Switching nearby devices to wired ethernet connections delivers faster, more reliable performance.
Choose ethernet cables according to your internet plan speeds:
|Plan Download Speeds
|Up to 100 Mbps
|Over 1 Gbps
|Cat 6a or Cat 7
Be sure ethernet cords connect snugly into ports without damage, crimping, or exposed wires.
3. Manage Connected Devices and Bandwidth Usage
The more devices simultaneously tapping your home network, the less bandwidth available per device, resulting in slower speeds.
Best practices to optimize performance:
- Disconnect inactive devices. Remove smartphones, tablets, game stations, smart speakers, and PCs not currently in use.
- Check device settings. Turn off auto updates and syncing options that quietly drain bandwidth in the background.
- Secure your WiFi with WPA3 encryption, hidden SSID, and strong passwords to prevent unauthorized usage.
- Create a separate guest network to temporarily provide internet to visiting friends and family without granting access to your main network and devices.
- Use router admin settings to analyze traffic, identify bandwidth hogs, cap speeds, and blacklist certain sites and activities.
Proactively limiting connected devices and restricting heavy duty downloads and streaming provides bandwidth relief to enhance speeds across your network.
4. Reschedule Large Downloads and Updates
CenturyLink’s peak congestion times run from 7-11 PM when overall neighborhood usage typically spikes.
Avoid using data-intensive internet activities during these hours:
- Downloading large files
- Streaming HD video
- Video conferencing
- Automatic updates for PCs and mobile apps
- iCloud/OneDrive/Dropbox mass syncs
- VPN sessions
- Backup and updates
- Game Patches
Instead, schedule these bandwidth-hogging tasks:
- Overnight during off-peak periods
- Early morning before others in the home start their internet activities
Taking advantage of less crowded offline hours gives you the breathing room to achieve faster speeds.
5. Run Antivirus and Malware Scans
Infections from viruses, spyware, bots, cryptojacking scripts, and other malware can overwhelm devices, slowing internet connectivity while enabling cybercriminals to exploit your network.
Protect all devices on your network:
- Download/update antivirus software
- Set automatic weekly scans
- Run manual scan if CenturyLink speeds seem particularly slow on a specific device
Malware removal provides both security and potential speed boosts.
6. Clear Browser Cache and Update Software
As browser caches grow over time, the extra data load eventually hinders connectivity and responsiveness. Website elements won’t fully refresh, slowing page loads.
Speed up web browsing:
- Clear cookies/caches in browser settings
- Download latest browser versions
- Keep all software up-to-date
Fresh installations and deletions keep things nimble.
7. Eliminate Router Interference
The 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi bands transmit router signals. Yet walls, floors, metal appliances, baby monitors, cordless phones and more all generate electromagnetic interference, resulting in weak, spotty coverage and slower speeds.
- Place router centrally on an open shelf away from potential disruptors
- Remove physical obstructions between the router and devices
- If using a dual-band router, enable “Smart Connect” to automatically steer devices to faster 5 GHz
- Upgrade router if needed to extend range
Optimizing transmission pathways strengthens WiFi connectivity.
8. Verify No Internet Outages in Your Area
Sometimes temporary CenturyLink network issues or maintenance routines manifest as slowdowns. Visit their outage map and enter your address to check for service alerts impacting your location. If so, speeds should automatically restore once technicians resolve the underlying problem.
9. Switch Router Frequency Band from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz
In addition to interference, the 2.4 GHz band also faces congestion since so many smart home gadgets connect via this frequency. Upgrading your router to one supporting 5 GHz allows faster transmission with less competition.
- Confirm dual-band router
- Log into admin interface
- Toggle settings to 5 GHz only
- Connect devices to updated 5 GHz network
The downside is 5 GHz provides shorter range since signals can’t penetrate objects as readily. Positioning the router centrally helps maximize coverage.
10. Update Router Firmware
Firmware is router software that manages WiFi signals, security encryption, DNS settings, and more. Manufacturers regularly issue patches improving connectivity, speed, range and eliminating bugs.
- Log into your router admin dashboard
- Check the current firmware version
- Navigate to settings and search for the latest upgrade
- Follow prompts to install new firmware
Keeping the software modern optimizes performance and squashes legacy inefficiencies causing network delays.
11. Reset Network Adapter Settings
Over time, saved network connection profiles and paired device listings cache problematic data that slows connectivity speeds for PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones alike.
Resetting all equipment to factory default clears out poor settings, enabling faster reconnection.
- Access Network & Internet settings
- Click Network reset
- Follow prompts
- Head to System Preferences > Network
- Click gear icon below list of connections
- Select Make Service Inactive followed by Apply
- Pull up WiFi settings
- Tap existing network
- Choose Forget This Network
- Reconnect freshly to WiFi
Wiping old network configuration parameters provides a clean slate improving cellular and WiFi speeds.
12. Limit App Background Bandwidth Usage
Apps accessing data in the background accumulate to consume significant bandwidth culminating in slower connectivity speeds in the foreground.
MacOS, Windows, iOS and Android each include settings to disable or strictly limit such background usage on a per-app basis. Toggle off access for troublesome apps dragging overall performance down.
13. Reset CenturyLink Modem/Router to Factory Defaults
If speeds remain inconsistent throughout your network, resetting Centurylink modem and router settings often helps resolve elusive software-related glitches flying under the radar.
- Locate the reset button on CenturyLink modem/router
- Press the reset button with a pin for 10 seconds.
- Wait 3-5 minutes for the modem to reboot and reset
- Login to the admin panel
- Reconfigure the network settings.
The restoration erases all custom admin changes reverting equipment to original state when first installed. Expect to reconfigure SSID and passwords upon connecting devices afterwards.
14. Upgrade Outdated Network Equipment
Sometimes, an aging modem/router lacks the transmission muscle necessary for handling modern high-bandwidth applications across multiple devices, resulting in chronic sluggish speeds.
Run an internet speed test plugged directly into the modem via ethernet cable. If measured performance falls well below your CenturyLink plan speeds, incompatible network equipment likely impedes connectivity.
Upgrading to new, powerful hardware with the latest WiFi 6/6E, MU-MIMO, and Quality of Service (QoS) technologies will futureproof your setup to achieve faster wireless speeds across all your smart home gear.
We recommend standalone routers unbundled from your provider. Purchasing your own unlocks superior hardware and software options. Upgrade WiFi coverage dead zones with mesh systems or WiFi extenders.
15. Enable Quality of Service (QoS)
Centurylink routers with Quality of Service settings can detect bandwidth hogs and deprioritize pings from smart speakers, for example, while ensuring your video call gets top priority without garbled audio or frozen video. This helps minimize the impact of peaked localized evening usage.
16. Add a Whole Home Mesh Network
Mesh WiFi systems featuring multiple access points throughout larger homes help blanket every corner with strong signals to avoid room-based dead zones and patchy streaming. While not a magic bullet for throttling, meshed networks optimize what bandwidth you have.
How to Confirm CenturyLink Throttling
Some customers suspect intentional CenturyLink throttling – artificially limiting bandwidth & speeds at certain times or when specific sites/apps are accessed.
You can test this theory.
Check Speed Over Multiple Days at Different Times
Run Speedtest periodically each day, several days in a row comparing results over WiFi and wired ethernet.
Consistently slow measurements indicate network equipment struggles rather than temporary slowdowns caused by intermittent traffic spikes.
Sudden significant drops during particular hours or with certain online services points toward deliberate throttling.
Confirm No Data Caps Breaches
CenturyLink enforces an Excessive Use Policy (EUP) limiting residential data usage to 1TB monthly. Those exceeding see speeds slow to 1-5Mbps until the next billing cycle.
Log into your CenturyLink account online or via the mobile app to monitor monthly data to avoid surpassing this threshold triggering automatic throttling.
If speeds tank out of the blue, a data cap breach likely occurred without realizing.
Analyze Speed Tests After Connecting VPN
If speeds only crawl with specific sites or during online gaming/streaming, CenturyLink may throttle traffic analyzing content through deep packet inspection.
Connecting a trusted VPN masks this activity, bypassing throttling filters.
Compare speed tests with VPN toggled on/off to check if observed slowdowns derive from deliberate limiting policies rather than other common interfering factors like line noise or faulty hardware degrading bandwidth.
Contact CenturyLink Support
If monitoring and testing reveals suspicious speed inconsistencies pointing to throttling, contact CenturyLink support formally complaining about service quality and unfair targeting of particular applications.
Press customer service to justify the rationale if no data cap overages occurred. Be firm citing net neutrality principles discouraging unequal treatment of internet traffic regardless of source, destination or content.
If resolution proves unsatisfactory demanding the provider cease and desist, you can file an FCC complaint arguing unjust business practices, particularly given CenturyLink’s notorious history violating net neutrality rules.
Fixing CenturyLink Speed Issues Without Upgrading Plan
Before shelling out more money for a faster tier, first ensure you squeeze maximum performance from current equipment.
Attempt the 16 optimizations above before changing plans since applying fixes costs nothing. A few tweaks resolve many speed woes reviving internet responsiveness.
Other zero-cost steps if speeds still disappoint:
- Improve router placement centrally with 5-10 foot clearance
- Add Ethernet over Power kits to distant rooms
- Verify all coaxial cables, DSL filters and ethernet runs connect properly without damage
- Disable Energy Efficiency Ethernet settings on PCs
- Limit video quality to 480p/720p for streaming & video calls
- Set video game downloads to throttle speeds
- Toggle off auto HD for web videos
If after diligently working through solutions, inconsistent performance persists, unfortunately your existing package fails providing sufficient bandwidth needed for household use.
Now is the time to consider upgrades.
Upgrading Slow CenturyLink Internet
When available in your area, upgrading to faster CenturyLink plans delivers more generous bandwidth for supporting internet-connected lifestyle demands.
Typical speed tiers for residential service:
|Light browsing, social media, email
|Multi-device streaming, gaming, working from home
|Ultra HD and mobile gaming, smart homes, small businesses
|Hyper Gig 2 Gig
|Larger networks with heavy usage across many devices simultaneously
CenturyLink offers promotional discounts for new subscribers making phone inquiries. Existing customers must press retention reps to provide incentives avoiding cancellation/churn to maintain revenue. Never hesitate negotiating – competition breeds the best deals.
When available speeds still don’t surpass 25-100 Mbps in your area, satellite internet, fixed wireless, DSL and 4G/5G cellular offer alternative solutions.
Other possible upgrades:
- Add secondary DSL line doubling bandwidth through multi-line bonding
- Install commercial fiber delivering symmetrical speeds up to 10 Gbps
If no upgrades resolve unsatisfactory performance, leaving CenturyLink becomes the only recourse. Lucky residents enjoy options switching providers entirely.
As a Last Resort: Fight Back Against CenturyLink Throttling
Accepting network limitations as the status quo means your ISP wins. The above router tweaks and usage changes make the most of your daily internet experience. However, hat shouldn’t prevent holding CenturyLink accountable for improving speeds long-term through these tactics:
File FCC Complaints
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees the regulation of internet service providers. Filing formal complaints through the FCC grievance process detailing precisely how CenturyLink throttles bandwidth and fails consistently delivering advertised speeds applies added pressure.
Describe everything from ticketed requests ignored by customer service to core evening latency numbers. These complaints go on record for unacceptable business practices.
At the end of the day, voting with your wallet remains the key lever of change when providers take customers captive with shoddy service. Research all competing ISPs in your area offering faster overall performance without hard throttling and port your number to a new high-speed fiber or cable internet provider. Enough account churn inflicts damage, forcing investments to improve networks.
Follow the checklist above: find the cause of slow internet, apply local fixes, and fight against long-term slowdowns by filing FCC complaints and talking to customer care. If nothing is working out, research and change the provider in your local area.
FAQs: CenturyLink Slow Internet Speeds
Does CenturyLink throttle internet speeds?
Yes, CenturyLink does employ data throttling practices to manage network loads. This means they intentionally restrict bandwidth available to heavy users during peak congestion periods typically evenings. They also reduce speeds temporarily for subscribers exceeding the 1 TB monthly data allowance per their policy.
Why is CenturyLink so slow?
The most common reasons CenturyLink internet speeds lag are network congestion from too many users fighting over limited capacity, throttling of bandwidth once data limits are reached, using outdated rented modem/router equipment unable to keep up with demand, and struggling WiFi signals that fail streaming high bandwidth video smoothly.
How can I check if my CenturyLink internet is being throttled?
You’ll need to run periodic speed tests and check performance at different times of day including peak evening hours. Compare results to the internet plan speeds you pay for – if you consistently get only, say, 50mbps when paying for 200mbps service, then throttling may be capping your connection. Testing directly wired into the modem helps determine if WiFi is the culprit.
Why is CenturyLink slow during peak hours?
Like all ISPs, CenturyLink experiences maximum traffic load weekday evenings as people stream video and games online, video call friends & family, etc, in their downtime. Their infrastructure can only support so much simultaneous usage before congestion leads to lag, buffering, and slow speeds. Throttling certain users ensures essential activities still work.
How can I bypass CenturyLink throttling?
Using a VPN service will encode and reroute your traffic so CenturyLink can’t analyze usage patterns and deliberately slow speeds when you stream, download files, etc. Other methods like swapping DNS, cloning your device MAC address, and assigning a static IP instead of a dynamic one also help mask your internet activity, defeating throttling efforts.
Does CenturyLink have data caps?
Yes, under their Excessive Use Policy residential CenturyLink internet subscribers face a 1 TB monthly data usage limit. Exceeding this threshold risks temporary speed reductions as a penalty until your next billing cycle resets the cap. Fiber Gigabit internet plans feature unlimited data use.
Why is my CenturyLink WiFi so slow?
While the core internet connection may test fine at your subscribed speeds, that data still has to be broadcast wirelessly to devices like phones and tablets when using CenturyLink WiFi instead of ethernet. Interference, distance/walls, outdated router firmware, and congestion from too many nearby networks drag down WiFi performance, resulting in buffering and lag.
How can I make my CenturyLink internet faster?
By doing the following things, you can make your Centurylink Internet Faster:
- Regular router reboots
- Adjusting router placement for best WiFi distribution
- Connecting devices via ethernet cable whenever possible
- Upgrading to newer Centurylink-supported modem and router models ensuring capacity keeps pace with usage
- Adding whole home mesh network systems
- Limiting large downloads to off-peak hours to help maximize CenturyLink speeds
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