WOW! Review – 2020

WOW! stands for Wide Open West. It is a cable TV company that also offers telephone and internet services over its network. WOW! is the sixth-largest cable internet provider in the USA.

Pros of WOW!

  • Faster than DSL
  • Network is partially fiber optic
  • Choice of with contract or no contract
  • No data caps
  • Offers bundles that include internet, DirecTV, and/or telephone service

Cons of WOW!

  • Doesn’t serve many states
  • Not much availability in rural areas

Table of Contents

Overview of WOW! Internet Services

The company has its headquarters in Denver, Colorado and its service coverage area keeps changing as WOW! buys out other cable TV networks and then sells off bits of them. The cable TV network of WOW! has a presence in nine states but it is particularly focused on Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

The company started up in 1996. Although initially private, it floated on the New York Stock Exchange in 2017 and is now a public company.

The network of WOW! is typical of all cable TV providers in the USA. It is known as a “hybrid fiber-coaxial” network. This refers to the type of cable used in the system. The layout of the network looks a bit like a tree. Just like a tree, the WOW! network has a trunk. This is a fiber-optic cable that carries bulk traffic over a long distance. This runs from the premises of the internet service provider, where the access point to the internet is located. Traveling along the trunk from the ISP’s offices towards the customers, the network splits out into branches that lead to neighborhood junctions. These branches are also made up of fiber-optics.

The final stretch of the network is like the twigs on a tree sprouting out from the branches. The final links are carried over coaxial cable. That type of cable has a lot less capacity than fiber-optic. However, it only needs to carry the traffic of one house and the compromise on speed is worth it to get the price of the service down to the budget of the average household. Although the coaxial part of the network covers only a short distance, that final stretch has to be laid many times over – once to each house. Think of a tree and how many twigs each has, while only having one trunk. Using coaxial for all of that footage saves a lot of money.

Some Points About WOW!

Although it is a relatively small network, WOW! has always been an early adopter of new technology in order to improve services without escalating costs. The company was one of the first cable TV providers to apply the DOCSIS 3.1 system to its network. This protocol creates an efficient way to transport high-speed internet over coaxial cable.

A recent advancement in the service of WOW! is its offer of Eero Wi-Fi router to its internet customers. This is a very high-quality wireless network router that can easily be extended with repeaters. People who have homes with Wi-Fi dead zones, lots of metal in the construction, or homes that cover a lot of square feet will experience better Wi-Fi reception and therefore higher speeds with this system.

These two examples of technological improvements show that WOW! is a good choice as an internet provider. It is more likely than some other cable TV networks to keep improving its service. The use of these technologies also keeps costs down, so WOW! is better placed to keep prices low that some of its rivals.

WOW! Plans

Here is a selection of the internet-only plans offered by WOW!

 

 

Plan Download Speed Minimum Term Data Cap
Internet 100 Up to100 Mbps 2 Years None
Internet 200 Up to 200 Mbps 2 Years None
Internet 500 Up to 500 Mbps 2 Years None
1Gig Up to 1000 Mbps 2 Years None

The absence of data caps is great news. However, there is a downside to that generosity. All of your traffic goes down a dedicated cable from your home to the local exchange but from then on, you are on a shared line. If there are a lot of people in your area who are big data hogs, then the speed you will get from the service will slow. This is because the shared cable has a finite capacity and overcrowding holds up data. Such networks particularly experience impaired performance at peak usage times, such as when the neighborhood kids get home from school.

Be aware of the wording of the speeds offered by WOW! and don’t overlook that “up to.” The company can’t keep that speed level up during peak hours. The circumstances created by different qualities of network, longer or shorter distances from the internet access point to each home, and the age of the company’s equipment in each area means that each location will experience different performance.

WOW! Pricing Overview

The table below shows the prices charged by WOW! for its internet plans.

 

 

Plan Promotional Price per Month Regular Price per Month Installation Fee AutoPay Discount Equipment Cost/Month
Internet 100 $39.99 $59.99 $0 $5 $10 + $9.99
Internet 200 $49.99 $69.99 $0 $5 $10 + $9.99
Internet 500 $59.99 $79.99 $0 $5 $10 + $9.99
Internet 1Gig $79.99 $99.99 $0 $5 $10 + $9.99

All prices are all subject to tax.

The price structure is a little complicated and needs further explanation. When you go to the WOW! website, you will notice that the prices there are a little lower than shown here. This is because the company would like customers to set up automatic payment schedules with AutoPay, but don’t make it a compulsory condition. Instead, WOW! gives each customer a $5 discount each month if they pay by AutoPay. Hence, the headline price for the Internet 100 plan on the website is $34.99.

The fine print for the agreement states that the AutoPay agreement usually takes more than a month to set up, so no one gets the AutoPay discount in the first month.

The equipment cost is a little confusing on the website. It explains that customers need to pay for the rental of a modem at $10 per month and that includes a Wi-Fi router. Promotional details on the site explain that users can get the amazing Eero wireless system, which includes one router and one booster for $9.99 and $5.99 for each additional booster. It seems as though you would be using the Eero system instead of the $10 router with its free Wi-Fi capabilities. However, this is not the case.

You need to have the modem whether or not you take the Eero option. You don’t have to go for the Eero system because the $10 a month modem includes a Wi-Fi router. So, you can choose equipment that costs $10 per month, or opt for an upgraded system that will cost $19.99 per month in total.

The promotional price requires a two-year service agreement. You get that lower price for the entirety of those two years. However, there is no price fix on the rate for the service after that two-year period ends. It might go up in price. One compensation to that problem is that subscribers are not subject to an early termination fee (ETF) once the two-year period ends, so if WOW! tramps up the regular price then customers can just cancel when the promotional period ends.

Customers have a 30-day money-back guarantee after signing up. If they back out during the first month, they don’t get hit by the ETF. Once the lock-in period starts ticking down, the ETF liability kicks in. this is initially $345 but reduces by $15 as each month passes and the expiration date of the contract gets a little closer.

WOW! adds in periodic flash incentives and offers. For example, at the time of writing, the WOW! website popup up a $25 cash offer for signing up that day.

WOW! Customer Service

The WOW! website has a user area where each customer has a password-protected page in which to view bills. Those customers who didn’t set up an AutoPay agreement can also pay their bills online. It is also possible to send and receive emails through the site with technical support and the accounts department.

The site includes a contact form for sending quick messages to the sales and technical departments and customers also have recourse to a telephone hotline.

WOW! also has a string of local offices where customers can go for assistance.

Choosing WOW! Plans

WOW! offers a good deal. The prices are reasonable and the service is good. However, make sure you are really committed within the first month of signing up for the service because that early termination fee is going to sting if you wait more than a month to back out. The company also offers a telephone add-on to its internet service for just $9.99 per month.

If you don’t already have cable TV or if you are interested in getting it, check out the bundles offered by WOW!. It works out cheaper to take a package of services that to sign up for each individually.

WOW! has a fun image, the company is technically astute, and it has a winning combination of low prices and fast speeds.