WINSTON COUNTY - Local CenturyLink phone and internet customers will soon see a new name on their bills.
Either on or soon after Oct. 3, Brightspeed will be taking over portions of CenturyLink’s business in 20 midwestern and southeastern states, including Alabama. Locally, CenturyLink offers phone and internet services in all of Marion County and all of Winston County with the exception of the Arley area.
Lumen, which owns an incumbent local exchange carrier in Alabama - operating it as CenturyLink - is selling portions of its business to Brightspeed, a new company formed in August, 2021, between Lumen and Connect Holding LLC, through funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, Inc., strictly to acquire certain telecom assets and operations from Lumen, according to information found on Lumen, CenturyLink and Brightspeed’s websites. According to Lumen’s website, the sale is valued at $7.5 billion.
“Selling these assets to Brightspeed’s parent company at such an attractive valuation allows us to focus on driving growth in our core enterprise business,” a statement on Lumen’s website reads. “This deal allows us to focus on investments in Lumen’s most attractive markets where we see an opportunity to drive growth. We believe this transaction will be positive for consumers in the impacted states as Brightspeed pursues its own fiber deployment plans and invests in bringing faster and more reliable internet service to many rural markets.”
Lumen is retaining its national fiber routes and competitive local exchange carrier networks in Alabama, as well as the 19 other states that are being affected by this sale. Those states are Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Brightspeed will be led by CEO Bob Mudge, who has worked at Verizon and other telecommunications companies. The company has already announced plans to bring faster, more reliable internet and wi-fi to markets in some portions of Alabama, but not in Winston and Marion counties. Counties that are included in Brightspeed’s initial 18-month plan are Fayette, Pickens, Baldwin, Covington, Dale, Elmore, Geneva, Henry and Tallapoosa.
“We believe that all people and businesses should have access to the connectivity they need to accomplish what is most important to them. Our goal, over the next several years, is to build a next-gen fiber optic-based network to power internet access for the communities we will be privileged to serve,” a statement on Brightspeed’s website reads. “What truly excites us is the chance to bring the best technology to communities, particularly in rural and suburban America, who have not always had the choices in internet providers they need and deserve. We’re committed to building a smart network for customers who want consistently fast internet at a great value.”
CenturyLink is currently informing its local customers if they are going to be affected by this change. Customers who are affected should have already received an email about it or have seen information regarding the change on their phone bills. Both CenturyLink and Brightspeed have stated that there will be no service interruption and no equipment changes. Phone numbers will remain the same.
Customer account numbers will also remain the same, both CenturyLink and Brightspeed state. Bills will remain due on the same date and will arrive either paperless or by mail, whichever way customers are currently receiving them. Obviously, there will be a new address where payments will need to be mailed, and that address will be on customers’ first Brightspeed bill.
Persons who use their bank’s bill paying service will need to log into their bank’s website to enter Brightspeed’s billing information once receiving their first Brightspeed bill. Those signed up for autopay through CenturyLink will see no change, as their payment information and details will be transferred to Brightspeed, according to both companies’ websites. Autopay payment dates will not change.
Pricing for plans will not change in the near term, according to both company’s websites.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.