News tagged: WOW Internet and Cable
Yesterday we noted
that employees had flooded to our forums to indicate that Wide Open West (WOW) had laid off a significant number of employees just in time for the holidays. The company itself has since confirmed the layoffs, stating that it plans to lay off around 9% of the company's 3,000 employee workforce. "The company is making this change to compete more effectively and better position itself for future growth," the company tells us in a statement. The layoffs come directly on the heels of major rate hikes
, including the addition of a $1 per month "local origination programming fee," a $2 per month "sports surcharge fee," and a new $5 monthly "broadcast TV fee."
Anonymous posters in our forums
indicate that Wide Open West held an all-hands-on deck meeting this week at which "hundreds" of employees were informed they'd no longer be employed. "Wow was definitely an amazing place to work for," says the tipster. "Over the past 3years it when from being run as a small business to being run exactly like Comcast." Other employees have e-mailed me confirming the unspecified number of layoffs, though there's been no official announcement and WOW has not responded to request for comment. The rumored layoffs come on the heels of a significant management shakeup
at the company earlier this year that involved the departure of CEO Colleen Abdoulah.
The cable companies that pioneered cable television continue to flounder in JD Power and Associates' latest TV customer satisfaction survey. According to the latest results from the firm
, DIRECTV and Verizon FiOS (738) tied for top honors in TV customer satisfaction in the East region; AT&T U-verse (750) ranks highest in the North Central region; Verizon FiOS (751) ranks highest in the South region; and DISH Network (739) ranks highest in the West region.
While the gains are modest at just 3,700 basic video subscribers added on the fourth quarter, cable provider Wide Open West (WOW) has managed to beat an overall trend of industry losses on the quarter. Overall, WOW added 12,000 customers for the second half of the year
. It's not entirely clear what they're doing differently; the company is one of several to sock its users with a new Broadcast TV Fee
below the line. Still, WOW appears to be reducing churn by treating customers well overall, the company consistently winning JD Power awards for customer satisfaction
in the North-Central area of the United States.
Last week we noted that Comcast is only the latest pay TV provider to pass on broadcast industry retransmission fee hikes in new below the line fees
, even though they're also passing on those costs via standard rate hikes. Users in our Wide Open West forum
(WOW) note that WOW is also making heavy use of the fee, a notice being sent to consumers informing users they'll not only see hikes, the "Broadcast TV Surcharge" will be increased to $4 per month for many.
The company's website gives this explanation for the fee:
WOW! will impose a Broadcast TV Surcharge on those customers who subscribe (whether alone or as part of a bundle of services) to any WOW! cable television service (except limited basic). This surcharge is not a government mandated tax or fee and is subject to change. The surcharge is in addition to other charges associated with the WOW! cable television services.
As noted previously, even though retrans hikes are technically just the cost of doing business, burying them below the line allows companies to artificially keep their advertised rates the same.
Two new J.D. Power and Associates studies note that customers on pricier cable tiers claim they're more satisfied, while DSL users complain their connections aren't keeping pace with modern household bandwidth demands. story continues..
For several years now PC Magazine has been conducting a somewhat controversial ranking of broadband ISPs by speed, using the PC Magazine Surfspeed
application. Criticism over the years has grown about the magazine's methodology, and their decision to rank ISPs based on browsing speed
in the age of 100 Mbps connections and Internet video.
Roughly two and a half years after filing for Chapter 11
and insisting they'd emerge as a "stronger, more competitive company with the resources to continue to provide our customers with best-in-class products and services," Broadstripe has been chopped up and sold. The company (see our user reviews
) has been divvied up between WideOpenWest and Wave Broadband. According to Multichannel News
, Wave has agreed to pay $32 million for Broadstripe's networks in Washington and Oregon, which service 60,000 connected customers and pass 103,000 customers. WOW will be paying roughly $55 million for Broadstripe assets in Michigan with about 48,000 current customers and 92,000 homes passed. The remainder of Broadstripe's assets are in Maryland, and are being acquired for $8 million by a newly-formed company named Ann Arundel Broadband (in part run by former Broadstripe executives).
In a post at the company blog
, cable operator Wide Open West (WOW) says the company has completed the heavy lifting portion of deploying DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades into all of their markets. According to WOW, they've upgraded all network infrastructure hardware and software for DOCSIS 3.0 in addition to their back office systems for service provisioning. "With these upgrades mostly complete, we are now addressing the 'behind the scenes' software and processes that will support the new speeds and cable modems," says the company. The company, which currently offers a top speed of 15 Mbps to most users, isn't yet saying what faster speeds they'll offer, when they'll offer them, or at what price. WOW is currently the 15th largest cable provider in the United States.
Cable operator Wide Open West took their shot at the Comcast hearings this week by claiming that the merger would restrict their ability to upgrade their own network
. How exactly is that even possible? According to WOW CEO Colleen Abdullah, Comcast is already using its market power to prohibit deals with broadcasters that would allow them to offer TV Anywhere Internet video services (though it's not clear TV Anywhere really matters
in the face of Internet video, given its brute force approach to forcing the traditional model online). Though Abdullah also notes a freshly merged NBC/Comcast would likely force rivals to pay exorbitant retransmission consent fees.
According to a recent blog post
by Wide Open West, the company says they've converted about 20% of their gear in preparation for DOCSIS 3.0. There's still no update from the company on a launch date for faster speeds or prices, the company only vaguely informing Light Reading
that they'll upgrade all WOW markets "over the course of the next year or so." Given the relatively inexpensive cost (and significant benefits) of deploying DOCSIS 3.0, if you're seeing a cable operator lag like this -- it's usually a good indication that they're not really seeing substantive competition in the majority of markets they operate in. However, WOW does compete with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Insight Communications in several bigger markets like Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland.
You might recall that before snoopvertising agency NebuAD flamed out spectacularly
, cable operator Wide Open West (WOW) tested the user-tracking technology on their customers -- without telling anybody about it
. When asked by the press about the tests, WOW of course denied to comment.
Recent rumors story continues..
of new speeds for Denver-based Wide Open West were correct. The company's website
now lists all of the upgrades to the company's existing tiers.
The past week or so has seen our Wide Open West forum filled with chatter about the company upgrading their speed tiers starting tomorrow (September 16). Tipsters suggest that customers will not only be seeing new bundles
, but most tiers will see significant speed hikes
Cable operator Wide Open West (WOW) offers service in portions of Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, but hasn't upgraded their top speed tier (for most customers that's 6Mbps
) for going on three years now. However, industry gossip seems to indicate that a 15Mbs/2Mbps tier is currently in testing, and some customers have been told that unofficially, the new tiers are scheduled to drop this fall. Officially, WOW isn't yet willing to publicly comment on the new speeds (fairly common practice until launch). Currently, the fastest standalone broadband service WOW offers is 6Mbps/1Mbps for $63.99.
Customer backlash, fears that the technology could violate several privacy and wiretap laws, and the threat of Congressional investigation caused Charter this week to suspend their trials
with behavioral advertising firm NebuAD. But what about the companies who were tinkering with the technology long before Charter? Embarq tells the Washington Times
still references such systems:
EMBARQ may use information such as the websites you visit or online searches that you conduct to deliver or facilitate the delivery of targeted advertisements.
A debate is raging in the UK
over ISPs' use of deep packet inspection hardware to watch consumer surfing habits and sell them targeted ads. The conversation here in the States remains muted, largely because the biggest ISPs haven't implemented such systems yet
(given the ceaseless need to please investors, they will).
A user for cable operator Wide Open West writes in: "Just thought you'd like to know, that I'm suspicious of my ISP, Wide Open West. I'm in the Chicagoland area, and it sure looks like they're allowing NebuAD to infect their network (sorry - my personal interpretation...I'm quite peeved about this) and altering pages to include their tracking cookies. story continues..
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