August 6, 2014 in Business

CenturyLink rolls out speedier Internet in some parts of Spokane

By The Spokesman-Review
Phone company fined for errors in billing process

CenturyLink will pay more than $30,000 in fines after an investigation revealed it failed to credit more than 1.5 million customers for tax breaks on their bills.

The Washington state Utilities and Transportation Commission approved a settlement with Louisiana-based CenturyLink, requiring the telecommunications company to pay fines after it admitted errors in its billing process. The errors included improper billing of low-income customers who qualified for the Washington Telephone Assistance Program.

“Upon discovery of the errors, we fixed the problem and credited all of our customers and addressed other customers’ specific complaints,” company spokeswoman Kerry Zimmer said in a statement.

A spokeswoman at the Utilities and Transportation Commission said many of the complaints came from Western Washington. The investigation was prompted by complaints dating to 2010.

CenturyLink has 30 days to pay the penalty of $31,300.

Kip Hill

CenturyLink on Tuesday said it now offers 1-gigabit-per-second fiber-optic Internet service in parts of Spokane, looking to lure business customers away from cable or DSL.

The expansion extends fiber service to downtown Spokane, some areas north of downtown, parts of Spokane Valley and portions of Airway Heights, said Tom Novotney, general manager for CenturyLink in Washington.

The company is the dominant landline phone service provider in Eastern Washington. Until now it has primarily offered Internet services for customers through older-style copper phone lines.

CenturyLink is rolling out the business-class fiber service in 12 other cities and expanding it in three others.

Over time the company will also offer fiber-based Internet service for residential customers in Spokane County. That option will only be in new residential development, not existing areas served by copper-based phone networks, Novotney said.

Other telecommunication companies already offer high-speed fiber options for area businesses. Novotney said CenturyLink’s pricing for 1-gigabit service will be from $700 to $1,000 per month.

Novotney said target customers for its fiber service include small and midsize businesses.

CenturyLink also offers customers the option to buy fiber service at less than 1 gigabit, he added. Businesses wanting fiber service need to be within 500 feet of a fiber-optic node to get full gigabit connections, he said.

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