A CenturyLink fiber installation.
CenturyLink photo Starting Wednesday, Portland viewers have something they've never had before: A choice about where they get their cable TV. More on the pricing, channels and alternatives. CenturyLink has finally launched its own service in Portland, called Prism.
It arrives eight years after the company first won a cable-TV franchise from the city. Actually, Qwest got that franchise but abandoned plans to begin offering cable almost immediately.
CenturyLink revived those plans after buying Qwest.
Here are answers to other questions about the new service: Is it cheaper than Comcast? That's the big question, isn't it? That includes nearly all of the standard cable entertainment and sports channels, but not premium services like HBO.
Both companies' prices go up sharply after the introductory period expires - 50 percent or more - and both offer discounts to people who subscribe to more than one service - Internet access or home phone service. So what's the bottom line? Prices are similar.
But they're opaque. Both companies' promotional materials hide additional charges for high-def service and other fees. Their offerings may not be directly comparable: Figure out what channels you need, what Internet speeds you want, call both companies and negotiate.
And above all, remember when your introductory discount expires and call back. If your cable TV provider won't renew that discount, call your other choice and see what that one will do for you.
And remember, you have a third option: Cut the cord , and go with a streaming service or services.
And don't forget about satellite - Dish or DirecTV. Where is CenturyLink Prism available? It's in parts of Portland where CenturyLink has installed its high-capacity fiber-optic network - at this point, that's primarily inner Southeast Portland.
CenturyLink says it will be marketing the service directly to customers who can get the service, based on where they live.
If you live in Vancouver, Lake Oswego or other cities CenturyLink serves, the company says it may add service there at some point, too. Does CenturyLink have the Blazers?
Does it have the Pac Network? Yes, that comes with CenturyLink's basic package. Does it have the Seattle Mariners? What other channels? And what about Google Fiber?
Google Fiber won a special legislative exemption from a quirky Oregon property tax law last month , but the company says it's still evaluating the Portland market. Google's prices are not introductory offers - that's the company's flat rate.
But it's not here yet.