CenturyLink internet customers on much of the Key Peninsula are complaining about slow service.

Don Lind is a Lakebay resident who uses his computer to work from home. “We’re subscribed to 1.5 mbps [megabits per second] service, the best that CenturyLink offers in our area. Sometimes we get that speed. Often we get 0.6 or 0.8 mbps,” Lind said.

Jeff Harris is a former member of the community council who has lived on the Key Peninsula since 1995. “The speed of the DSL service at times borders on the nonexistent,” he said.

Timothy Kezele is a lifelong Key Peninsula resident and a former council member. “It seems like every Sunday, service drops. Sunday afternoon my wife will be watching a movie on her iPad, and it just quits,” Kezele said.

Receiving customer assistance from CenturyLink is also reportedly problematic.

“I don’t bother to call CenturyLink anymore. There’s generally not much they can do,” Lind said.

During his time on the Key Peninsula Community Council, Kezele requested CenturyLink send a representative to hear citizen concerns at a council meeting. No rep was sent.

Residents’ frustrations are frequently vented on the Key Peninsula Facebook page. There are 11 posts related to CenturyLink complaints dated between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2016. A Facebook page with the title “CenturyLink on the Key Peninsula is Cheating You,” created in 2015, has over 100 subscribers.

Rate hikes are another sore spot with customers. Kezele signed up with CenturyLink after seeing an ad promising $19.95 a month for internet. In the fine print, the price required internet bundled with phone service. Kezele didn’t want phone service but agreed to bundle anyway. He now pays CenturyLink $86 a month. “Everyone’s tired of what it costs and what you get,” he said.

CenturyLink states that it is aware of the problem and working to fix it.

Kerry Zimmer, CenturyLink’s marketing and public relations manager, wrote in an email: “CenturyLink is committed to quality customer service. We are focused on improving and expanding broadband availability whenever possible. We have researched broadband activity in the Key Peninsula area and are in the process of upgrading equipment. The new equipment will provide congestion relief. We encourage our customers to contact us, using the number on their bills, should they have any questions. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”

In some areas of the Key Peninsula, dissatisfied CenturyLink customers can switch to its competitor, Wave Broadband. But Wave is not available everywhere. Attempts to contact a Wave representative for this article were unsuccessful.

According to Jonathan White, Peninsula Light Co.’s director of marketing and member services, internet service providers probably viewed the Key Peninsula as rural years ago when they were first building their infrastructure. The population has since grown and the service providers need to catch up. “I know it’s a frustration for a lot of folks. I think it’s going to get better over time,” White said, adding that there is also slow internet service in rural parts of Gig Harbor.

Key Peninsula resident Robyn Enders had been another frustrated CenturyLink customer but, unlike others, found her service issues were quickly resolved with a single phone call. “The tech came the very next day. After checking the lines, he excitedly came back to show me the corroded connectors and said all the wires were old and wired crazily back and forth up the street, to and from various neighbors. He replaced the connectors and rewired things, making the connection go directly to my house. My wireless connection works perfectly now. I would encourage people to give them a call and try to see if they can fix the problem,” she said.

Complaints are likely to continue until major improvements are made. “Reliable internet service in 2016 is not a fringe benefit, it is a necessity,” Harris said.

Derek Kilmer
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