CenturyLink expands Internet coverage to Centralia, Hallsville

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COLUMBIA - As the third largest telecommunications company in the U.S. announced expansion of its high-speed Internet (HSI) services to customers in areas of mid-Missouri, local phone and Internet providers said Friday they have to work harder to compete.

CenturyLink announced Friday it will expand its HSI services to residential and business customers in Centralia and Hallsville. In a news release, CenturyLink Vice President and Missouri General Manager Karen Crabtree said the company has made broadband availability a priority.

"CenturyLink is focused on improving and expanding broadband availability and increasing connectivity speeds to customers in Missouri," said Crabtree. "We understand how important it is for our customers to have access to fast, affordable Internet service."

The release comes a month after CenturyLink announced it would stop offering wholesale HSI services to local providers, like Socket Telecom, which serve the Hallsville and Centralia market.

Socket spokesperson Ally Shoemaker said the company immediately notified its customers about the change.

"We are working to make the transition as smooth as possible to help people find other providers," Shoemaker said. "We continue to investigate what options are out there."

Shoemaker said Socket has yet to find a feasible option to provide those services to its customers. 

CenturyLink HSI subscribers can create up to eight email addresses with significant mailbox storage capacity as well as access to a calendar and address book. The service also comes with a suite of online backup and 24/7 support services including troubleshooting, virus and spam protection, installation and file storage.

Meanwhile, Shoemaker said Socket is offering all affected customers a year of free email to help customers make the transition to a new Internet service.

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