One of the more popular providers of cable, internet and phone service throughout the South and Midwest regions of the United States is WOW! While the name may seem like something that the company made up to grab people’s attention, it technically stands for Wide Open West, referring to the area it covers.
WOW! has its fair share of consumer-friendly perks, including some affordable prices for its plans and true unlimited data, making it a streamer’s delight. Even though customers have made some complaints regarding this company’s customer service, to its credit, it doesn't outsource that, meaning when you get in touch with them, you can typically speak to a representative in the United States.
For consumers who have been looking for a new service provider, whether that’s for TV, internet, phone service or some combination of the three, this in-depth review will cover what WOW! offers and how its plans perform.
Pros and Cons at a Glance
The big perk with WOW! is undoubtedly that uncapped data. Consumers don’t need to worry about throttling with this provider. Maximum speeds with WOW! tend to fall into the above-average range, and this company’s bundle plans are very reasonably priced.
There are a few drawbacks to note. Among WOW’s current customers, impressions are up and down. Some like WOW!, some don’t, and plenty are in-between. This company’s service area is limited, and to take advantage of its great prices, consumers need to commit to at least one to two years of service.
TV, Internet and Phone Plans Available with WOW!
Compared to many of the other most popular internet service providers (ISPs), WOW! is easy on the budget, and it’s also competitive in terms of consumer satisfaction. For those looking to cut the cord and ditch cable TV, the lack of data caps with WOW! is great, because users could conceivably binge watch shows 24/7 without any extra fees or throttling. While customers can’t get the best prices on monthly no-contract plans, that type of plan is still an option with WOW!
While WOW! updates their plan offerings often and interested consumers should always double-check what’s available on the company’s site, here were the most recent plans available through WOW!:
Internet 10, which offers up to 10 Mbps of cable internet for $29.99 per month
Internet 100, which offers up to 100 Mbps of cable internet for $39.99 per month
Internet 100 plus Small Cable, which offers up to 100 Mbps of cable internet and Small Cable TV service for $59.99 per month
Internet 100 plus Small Cable and Phone, which offers up to 100 Mbps of cable internet, Small Cable TV and Advanced Phone service (this has unlimited calling nationwide along with calls to Canada and U.S. territories) for $74.99 per month
Internet 500, which offers up to 500 Mbps of cable internet for $59.99 per month
With this diverse assortment of plans, there’s an option for just about everyone. The Internet 100 plan is ideal for cord cutters, while the two bundle plans work well for anyone who also needs cable or cable and phone service.
Included with WOW’s plans are email and online security features, which WOW! provides through its F-Secure program. If the user gets phone service, those plans also have online voicemail management.
Internet Speed and Network Performance with WOW!
In terms of average speed, WOW! does a fantastic job, frequently ranking in the top five among ISPs on the Netflix leaderboard. This is even more impressive considering that WOW! is a smaller ISP. For speed tests over the last year, WOW! was typically in the 20 to 30 Mbps range. Those include thousands of tests.
Of course, average speeds with WOW! vary quite a bit by the area. In its speed tests, it recorded its highest numbers in Knoxville, Tennessee, with an average speed of 42 Mbps and a top 10 percent speed of 107 Mbps. Its lowest averages were 11 Mbps, which it recorded in a few different cities.
True to the name Wide Open West, WOW! is an option for consumers who live around the South and Midwest, where it’s available in many of the mid-size and large cities. Some of the major metro areas WOW! covers include Chicago, Detroit and Augusta.
WOW’s Cable Network Technology
All WOW’s internet service plans use coaxial cable technology, which most consumers know as the black cables with the rubber coatings that get attached to the sides of houses. To increase speeds, WOW! has also been working on setting up pure fiber lines in select locations.
While WOW! offers cable service, what it uses are really hybrid fiber-coaxial cables. Internet data passes through the fiber to a node in the user’s area, and then it transitions to the copper cable infrastructure. One benefit of this method, compared to a pure fiber cable setup, is that internet data can utilize the cables of TV networks. This results in lower costs for WOW! and better deals for consumers.
WOW’s peak internet service option is obviously its 500 Mbps plan. That isn't available throughout its service area at this time, but progress is being made on that front. There are also select pockets where WOW! uses DSL lines for its customers, including in certain areas in Alabama and Georgia. This DSL service is significantly slower than WOW’s typical offerings.
There is an installation fee with WOW!, although reports from customers indicate that this fee isn't set in stone, as some say they negotiated the amount. WOW! also has many promotions it runs for certain areas, and these often include free installation. Consumers signing up with WOW! should always inquire about free installation. If someone needs service right away, WOW! has next-day installations available in several areas.
Another option is self-installation. This is the only way a consumer signing up for a month-to-month plan will be able to get free installation, because they’re doing it on their own. The good news here is that WOW! has a kit that makes the process simple enough.
Here are the standard fees WOW! charges:
The installation fee ranges from $20 to $50
If a current WOW! customer moves, there’s no fee for installation at their new home
The gateway rental fee is between $7 and $20
The DVR rental fee is $10 if the consumer gets a basic DVR or $15 if they get an HDR
The early termination fee varies, but at most it will be $345 for a 24-month plan
WOW! gives its customers options when it comes to equipment. While it would once provide free routers, it now generally charges a rental fee, with the price depending on what the customer chooses.
If the customer wants the best of the best, there’s the ULTRA Gateway router and TV box. That with two media players is usually $25 per month. The big perk with this is that it provides an easy plug-and-play solution for those getting TV and internet service.
Customers who just want a standard wireless modem can get one for about $10 per month.
Customers also have the option of using their own equipment, as long as it’s compatible.
Important Factors in Comparing WOW! with the Competition
There are a couple key factors to remember in comparing WOW! to other companies. To WOW’s credit, it includes a 30-day moneyback guarantee. However, the flipside is that its termination fees are very high. Consumers can check out what WOW! has to offer during that 30-day period and cancel without any penalty, but if they decide they want to cancel after that, they could end up paying up to $345. Note that this is only with 24-month plans. There’s no early termination fee with month-to-month plans, which cost more but are still affordable.
Cable TV service definitely isn't WOW’s strong suit. It’s passable, but in terms of what the consumer gets compared to what they pay, WOW’s TV package falls short compared to other providers. This provider is better for cord cutters.
TV Packages with WOW
WOW! has three cable TV packages available. Consumers don’t need to worry about any complex name with WOW!, as its cable packages are simply called Small Cable, Medium Cable and Large Cable.
The Small Cable package really doesn't have much besides the basics, and even then, it’s missing some popular channels, including Comedy Central and Fox Sports. It has about 90 channels, and its only good if the consumer wants very basic cable service.
For a bit more, the Medium Cable package is a solid upgrade. It includes more than 150 channels, including SyFy, Nickelodeon and the Travel Channel. The user also gets one premium channel of their choosing, such as HBO, Cinemax, Starz or Showtime.
The biggest TV package WOW! has is the Large Cable option, which boasts more than 260 channels. This lineup includes NFL Network and VICELAND, and just like the Medium Cable package, the user can pick a premium channel.
With its ULTRA box, WOW! has gotten on board with the smart TV movement. Besides the cable channels that the user already has through WOW!, the ULTRA box also provides an extensive library of on-demand content. It also functions as a router and works with Netflix. Considering how easy the ULTRA box is to use and its many functions, it’s a popular choice for families.
WOW! has multiple DVR options. While prices vary depending on the market the customer is in, the prices below are the standards that WOW! uses for most of its service area.
The most basic WOW! DVR is its standard DVR. This costs $10 per month. If the customer wants an HD DVR, they can upgrade to one for $13 per month.
There are two options with the ULTRA DVR – one media player or two. With one media player, the ULTRA DVR costs $20 per month. With two, it costs $25. Either way, there’s a 500 GB storage capacity, and users are able to record up to three programs simultaneously.
WOW! can be an excellent choice, depending on the consumer’s circumstances. For people who want to lose the cable TV service, WOW! is fantastic because of its uncapped data and high download speeds.
The internet packages are affordable, although equipment fees can make them a bit costlier. Still, consumers can use their own equipment.
The only potential issue with WOW! is that quality depends in large part on the consumer’s area. That’s why it’s best for consumers to check reviews from others in their area first or do some very thorough testing during that initial 30-day period when they can cancel without any early termination fees.
Wirefly Is America's Most Trusted Source For All Cell Phones, Plans, TV, and Internet Deals
Wirefly offers great deals on a large selection of smartphones, cell phones, tablets, mobile hotspots, and other wireless devices for the nation's most popular carriers. Use Wirefly’s innovative cell phone and plan comparison tools to ensure you are getting the best deal on the market. Shop with confidence knowing that Wirefly wants to help you find the best prices on cell phones, cell phone plans, TV, and Internet service.