WOW Internet Service 2021 Review

Adina Hamb

Table of Contents What are the pros and cons of WOW home internet service?What we like about WOW InternetWhat we don’t likeWhere does WOW offer home internet service?Check your address for WOW availabilityWhat internet plans does WOW offer? WOW home internet plans and pricingAre WOW Internet speeds fast?Are there other […]


WideOpenWest

In case you’re wondering — no, my caps lock didn’t get stuck. WideOpenWest, which prefers to go by WOW, is an internet service provider that operates in the southern and middle portions of the US. According to Federal Communications Commission data, the service is available to just over 7 million customers across the country.

If you’re located in one of the nine states where WOW is available, you may be wondering if it’s the right ISP for your household. Let’s learn some more about WOW home internet, and see whether or not it lives up to the exclamatory branding.

What are the pros and cons of WOW home internet service?

WOW currently offers customers either a cable or fiber-optic internet connection with download speeds ranging from 100 megabits per second to 1 gigabit (1,000Mbps). 

What we like about WOW Internet

  • No contracts: Have no fear about cancellation fees or being tied to a plan you no longer want.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee: Not only do you avoid contracts, but WOW gives you the chance to try the service for a month and cancel without penalty if it isn’t the right fit.
  • No data caps: No need to worry about overage fees with WOW Internet plans.

What we don’t like

  • Limited availability: Despite the competitive pricing, WOW is a viable internet option for residents in just nine states.
  • Reports of regular internet outages: Service interruptions can be a bit too frequent depending on your location.
wide-open-west-wow-coverage-map

FCC/Mapbox

Where does WOW offer home internet service?

You can find WOW home internet service in 19 markets among nine states across the US. The list of states includes Alabama (Auburn, Dothan, Huntsville and the Montgomery Valley), Florida (Panama City and Pinellas), Georgia (Augusta, Columbus and Fort Gordon), Illinois (Chicago and Chicagoland), Indiana (Evansville), Michigan (Detroit and Mid-Michigan), Ohio (Cleveland and Columbus), South Carolina (Charleston) and Tennessee (Knoxville).

Check your address for WOW availability

What internet plans does WOW offer?

WOW Internet features asymmetrical hybrid fiber-coaxial cable internet plans. The reliance on coaxial cable infrastructure means that available download speeds will be much higher than the upload speeds.

WOW home internet plans and pricing

Plan Promo rate (first year) Regular rate (after first year) Monthly equipment fees Max download speeds Max upload speeds
Internet 100 $20 $40 $14 for modem rental (optional) 100Mbps 10Mbps
Internet 200 $30  $45 $14 for modem rental (optional) 200Mbps 10Mbps
Internet 500 $45 $55  $14 for modem rental (optional) 500Mbps 50Mbps
Internet 1 Gig $65 $75 $14 for modem rental (optional) 1,000Mbps 50Mbps

WOW Internet sits in a sweet spot, with just enough plan variety for you to feel you can have the speed you need, but not too many for things to get confusing. Even more importantly, the pricing of those plans — especially the price of the regular rates that kick in after the first 12 months — is highly competitive. In fact, WOW’s plans are more affordable than comparable plans from larger cable providers like Xfinity, Spectrum and Cox, and they’re a better value than what you’ll get from AT&T, Verizon and Frontier, too.

Another strong point for WOW: Those prices aren’t designed to push you into a more expensive speed tier once the promo period ends. Your bill will increase after a year, yes, but it won’t shoot up by $20 or $30 like it will with other competitors, and the increase won’t force you to upgrade to a faster plan’s promo rate to get a better value, which is a pretty common trick that you’ll see from lots of other providers.

Are WOW Internet speeds fast?

As we mentioned above, you’ll find asymmetrical download and upload speeds with WOW Internet plans. In practical terms, that means that your connection won’t be as robust as a complete fiber-to-the-home connection for tasks that involve uploading lots of data to the web. That includes a lot of common tasks that are important for the work-from-home or remote-schooling life — such as uploading large files, hopping on Zoom calls or FaceTiming with study buddies.

Uploads aside, the good news is that the least expensive plan that WOW offers comes with download speeds of up to 100Mbps, which is much faster than the introductory plan of most ISPs and well above the FCC’s broadband definition of 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload.

Also, it’s worth noting that if you set aside the promo price and look at the regular rate, then for only an additional $5 per month customers can double their speed with the Internet 200 plan. In fact, that seems to be what many customers are choosing to do in 2021.

WOW CEO Teresa Elder shared in an early May webcast that 88% of new customers in the first three months of 2021 were opting for the 200Mbps plan or higher, which was up from 51% during the comparable period in 2020. 

img-5837

WOW customers can lease a two-piece Eero mesh Wi-Fi router for an extra $10 per month.


Ry Crist/CNET

Are there other aspects of WOW Internet I should consider?

No contracts, no data caps and the 30-day money-back guarantee all probably leap off the page when you first look at WOW’s internet offers. There’s more to think about, though — let’s take a closer look at some of the details. 

Additional monthly fees

WOW Internet charges $14 a month for a modem rental. Like many other ISPs, you do have the option to avoid this recurring fee by using your own compatible device — though WOW “strongly recommends” you lease with it. 

There’s also a charge of $10 per month if you want to add “Whole-Home Wi-Fi” to your plan via mesh router rental. Specifically, this includes two of Amazon’s Eero mesh devices. Any additional Eero devices will add another $6 a month per device to your bill. That’s only so-so as far as value is concerned — a two-piece Eero system costs $199, so you’d be better off just buying the router for yourself if you plan on keeping your connection longer than a year and a half or so. What’s more, there are other mesh routers we like better.

The exception here is WOW’s gigabit plan — if you subscribe to it, then the two-piece Eero system is included at no additional charge.

30-day money-back guarantee

This is a customer-friendly option that WOW Internet provides, especially when you consider that the company doesn’t hold you to a contract and the ominous threat of heavy cancellation fees that comes with it.

As you might imagine, there are a few small-print details to this guarantee. It does not extend to taxes and fees paid, nor to any equipment charges you incur. Also, to claim the money-back guarantee, you cannot reestablish service with WOW Internet within 180 days.

Incentive deals for new customers

Currently, WOW offers a Visa Prepaid Reward Card of $200 for new customers that sign up for speed tiers of 200Mbps or higher. This offer is valid through July 7, 2021, and customers must have the service for a minimum of 90 days to qualify for the gift card.

No data caps, for the most part

For several years, WOW Internet has made a point of touting its data-cap-free internet plans. It spoke of a “better internet experience without limitations,” and that its customers could use the internet “how they want it, when they want it, with no limit.”

As you might imagine, there was some consternation when in April the company sent out an email to some customers notifying them that “we’re introducing a monthly data usage plan for your Internet service on June 1, 2021.” What gives?

A WOW spokesperson said, “This new data plan is currently only being rolled out in Chicago. Regardless of the new plan, WOW does not impose restrictions on data usage … and is committed to providing its customers with incredible value.”

That’s somewhat reassuring to a majority of the company’s 3 million or so customers. Still, it remains to be seen if those in the Chicago metro area will feel the same way. 

If you do some digging in the terms and conditions you’ll see the new data cap for Chicagoland will be 1.5 terabytes for the Internet 100 and 200 plans, 2.5TB for Internet 500 and 3TB for the gigabit plan. Customers with the Gig plan will also have the option of getting an unlimited data plan for an additional $30 per month.

The first time you go over your data plan, the overage fee will be automatically waived. But after that point, customers can expect to be charged $10 per 50GB of additional data they use in excess of the cap, up to a maximum of $50 per calendar month. Unused data will not roll over into the next month.

A WOW spokesperson told CNET that customers in other markets “will be communicated with in the event that this plan is implemented in their area in the future.” 

Where does WOW Internet rank for customer satisfaction?

The 2020 American Customer Satisfaction Index for ISPs does not single out WOW Internet for an individual score. Our ACSI contact confirmed its inclusion in the total numbers but said there’s “too little market share to be measured by name.” Overall, as an industry, we know that ISPs tend to be among the lowest-ranked in the ACSI ratings — ranking only above subscription television services. So, overall scores being up 5% from the previous year doesn’t really tell us much. 

If you do a Google search on WOW customer satisfaction rankings, you’ll likely come across mentions of frequent service interruptions. There were outages in the Detroit area in March of this year and then a repeat of interruptions a month later for many of those same Michigan customers.

That said, WOW also shows up on the positive side of the ledger when it comes to customer experience. In PCMag’s 2020 Reader’s Choice awards, WOW Internet notched an impressive sixth place among 20 ISPs with a 7.9/10 score. That put it above more familiar providers — like Xfinity, AT&T, Spectrum and Cox — and well above the ISP average of 6.9/10. 

In a press release from late 2020, newly hired Vice President of Customer Success Rose Jerez acknowledged WOW’s commitment to getting better. “It’s undeniable that customer success is part of WOW’s culture and I look forward to helping improve the customer experience in this role.”

WOW Internet FAQs

Where does WOW Internet get its name?

WOW is short for WideOpenWest. It is headquartered in Colorado and provides internet, TV and phone services to customers in the Midwest and Southeast. 

How can I contact WOW Internet customer service?

There are several ways to reach out to WOW customer service. You can find most of what you need by visiting its Contact page. There are several phone numbers listed, all dependent on your address and whether you’re an existing or potential customer inquiring about service.

Additionally, you can use the WOW Twitter contact page — which is also a great way of tracking where any outages may be occurring — or visit the WOW Facebook page.

Is WOW participating in the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

Yes. WOW is supporting the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, an initiative to help keep households connected to vital internet services during this time of remote learning, work and health care information. WOW also offers its own low-cost plan, called Internet for Education, which provides affordable broadband access for qualifying households of K-12 students.

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