City Hall

City Hall

WOW to begin work later this month on upgrade to boost Internet speeds in city

June 5, 2013


Lawrence’s largest Internet service provider will start a major upgrade later this month to provide more reliable Internet speeds in the city.

Kelvin Fee, senior vice president for WOW — the Internet and cable provider that bought Knology almost a year ago — said the company is expanding its broadband capacity that connects WOW’s Lawrence Internet infrastructure to the broader cross-country fiber network that allows access to the World Wide Web.

“It is basically a bigger pipe that will allow us to get to the outside world with greater speed,” said Fee, who was in Lawrence on Wednesday. “I think in another month, all the issues people have had with Internet speeds will be resolved.”

The upgrade comes as the WOW name begins replacing the Knology brand across Lawrence. WOW purchased Knology in July 2012, and Fee said company officials recognized there were issues with customers experiencing slower in Internet connections.

“We’ve been behind the scenes talking about what needs to change, and we feel we’re well on the way now,” Fee said.

The upgrade also comes at a time when Lawrence city commissioners are being asked to provide a subsidy to a rival Internet provider that wants to bring to Lawrence the same super-fast Internet service that the Google Fiber project is providing in Kansas City.

Lawrence-based Wicked Broadband — which previously operated as Lawrence Freenet — is seeking a $500,000 grant from the city to help launch a pilot project to bring 1-Gigabit Internet service to portions of Lawrence.

Fee said WOW will ask city officials to not provide subsidies or incentives in the broadband market.

“We think a company should be able to compete in any market, but the competition has to be fair,” Fee said. “If any city starts doing one thing for one provider and not others, that is not a level playing field. We would have significant issues at that point.”

As for the desire for Lawrence to have the super-fast 1-gigabit service, Fee said WOW doesn’t have any plans to offer that level of speed in the foreseeable future.

“We’ll continue to increase the speeds available as more people start to use the Internet for more services,” Fee said. “But we don’t believe there is a tremendous need in any city for that level currently.”

In other news from WOW, Fee said:

• The company plans to begin offering a “whole-house DVR system” to Lawrence area cable subscribers in the next six to nine months. Currently, WOW’s DVR system in Lawrence does not allow users to record a program in one room and watch it in another. The new system will allow people play back DVR recordings on any television set in the house. The new system also will allow for three recordings at once, while the current system only allows for one.

• The company doesn’t have any plans to make changes to Channel 6, the cable channel that offers local programming and news. WOW doesn’t own such local channels in its other markets, but Fee said the company is still evaluating the operation.

“There are no plans at this point to do anything with it,” Fee said. “We have come to realize that it is an important part of the community.”

• WOW has 102 employee as part of its Lawrence operations. Fee said the company does use some contract workers to perform tasks that Knology did in-house, but he said he doesn’t expect any reduction in WOW’s Lawrence workforce.

“We feel comfortable with the staff size that we have,” Fee said.

The Lawrence operations had about 200 employees when Sunflower Broadband sold to Knology in October 2010. Several cuts occurred under Knology, which sold to WOW in July 2012. Sunflower Broadband was owned by The World Company, which owns the Journal-World and


Thomas Christie 4 years, 10 months ago

How much more will Internet service cost us? On top of the $5-$6 and $7 increase for cable service? Anyone?

Bailey Perkins 4 years, 10 months ago

Spoke with a WOW representative earlier this week, to change our service from Platinum to Gold, and was told nothing about this. Even with Platinum, our downloading speed has been quite slow and we'd rather pay more for internet, if we're not paying for cable. With the upgrade on our account, there was a ~$10 difference. Will this change once the system is upgraded? It's already a lot to pay and I really see no point in paying nearly $100 just to use the internet.

Hooligan_016 4 years, 10 months ago

Platinum? You mean Palladium? Under Knology, Palladium was "unlimited" but was throttled depending on the amount of network usage. Supposedly optimized for streaming, but your d/l speed or gaming connections would suffer with Palladium from time to time.

I've been using Gold because Knology kept those idiotic data caps in place and I needed the extra 250gb of usage. However, WOW's site now says Palladium is 25mbps up, 2mbps (with no data caps) and no indication of bandwidth throttling. That speed should be plenty for most households right now ...

Also, check your router. There may be some settings within it that are limiting your total bandwidth.

Bailey Perkins 4 years, 10 months ago

My bad. I honestly didn't know and went off what I thought I heard from the WOW rep. Since nothing is available on their site, information wise, I couldn't check to see if the name was correct.

Bailey Perkins 4 years, 10 months ago

Oh haha I found it! Never mind what I said. In most cases don't companies use Platinum as an option - though it might be the option higher, not lower than Gold (?)

Hooligan_016 4 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, the current information is kind of schizophrenic. Maybe things will be clearer after Knology is completely out of the picture. If the "new" Palladium is unthrottled, I would probably switch down to that. 25mbps is good enough for streaming and gaming (I would think).

Liberty275 4 years, 10 months ago

" I needed the extra 250gb of usage"

It's nice to see somebody is keeping their Windows box updated.


Hooligan_016 4 years, 10 months ago

Good to hear, hopefully prices stay the same as well! I also wholly approve of WOW getting rid of data caps! (at least I think they have, haven't had a chance to look at the fine print yet)

George_Braziller 4 years, 10 months ago

WOW should start with getting the cable stations figured out first. Channels keep blacking out or aren't even available.

arch007bak 4 years, 10 months ago

Amen! I haven't had the Internet problems others seem to have had but I am getting tired of channels blacking out or the messages saying "channel not authorized" or "this channel will be available shortly" when I pay as much as I do to get all channels...on 4 TV's with 2 of those in HD

4 years, 10 months ago

What are the plans for improving our cable service. It seems to pause, scramble or just go off at times. Also are there any plans to give us back some of the stations that have been removed since Knology took over?

Joseph Jarvis 4 years, 10 months ago

Over the last month or so, WOW dropped the bandwidth caps Sunflower/Knology used to have.

Wish we had more detail than "we're installing a bigger pipe."

Skeptic 4 years, 10 months ago

While I agree there isn't "tremendous" demand for better internet speeds, I think Mr. Knee doesn't know his Lawrence customers very well. We are not a typical mid-sized midwestern town. Lawrence has many international researchers and students who are accustomed to the broadband speeds they get in their home countries. Most of those countries lag behind the US in that regard. KU employs a lot of Lawrence residents, and those employees are used to the 10Gbps internet connection on the KU network. Many people from Lawrence commute to KC for technology jobs that could be done at home, if they had internet service that is better than typical consumer grade. Or they also enjoy high speed connection at work and just get frustrated at home.

Better broadband is a feature people will pay for. Stop assuming we're OK with what is provided just because we're still subscribing to existing services. We have few choices.

Ken Schmidt 4 years, 10 months ago

AMEN! Very well said. Although you might cut the whole first paragraph and simply state the last three sentences. WHY can't companies get this? You will need the infrastructure soon. Why not install it now and tout being ahead of the game rather than a member of service provider "status quo?"

balancedscales 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes they have a terrible business model, which is why they will fail just like previous companies. They don't want to go above and beyond to provide their customers with new technology because they are still "happily" paying for crappy existing services. I wish Wicked had more support, they are doing something few small ISP's in this country will not touch. Wicked just doesn't have enough money for the infrastructure of its new fiber project.

Pr0digy 4 years, 10 months ago

TV with Knology AKA WoW by far needs improvement I personally wish I had the avalibility of direct tv where I lived, Internet by far hasn't been the worst speeds I have encountered I would love to see improvements to the speeds Im personally never have had trouble with customer service either WoW or Knology but have had friends tell me horror stories.

Needless to say I would be so delighted to have a wickedly honest wink company have the city hand over half a million dollars plus incentives to them over a promise.

Just look at the purely honest and complete statements from these delightful examples below!

"Montgomery said Wicked would use traditional bank financing to fund the initial phases of the project, and would not be seeking financial assistance from the city." Source Second to the last paragraph last sentence

Wicked's own application to the city says the construction for the fiber project will have 35 full time jobs for 6 months at $18 a year salary yet two jobs at $47,500 per year Source: page numbered 12

The company lost a civil suit with a landlord in 2008. The resulting judgment was paid in full.

The company is currently the plaintiff in a civil case in Douglas County related to a breech of contract.

Source: Page numbered 14

Pr0digy 4 years, 10 months ago

Chad or anybody could you explain on page 2 of the Application for Economic Development Support/Incentives to the City from "Wicked Broadband" why COMMUNITY WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS CO. shows on the Business Entity Search Station (BESS) for the Secretary of State's office as formed in 2006 and the net index started November 6th 2010 yet there were zero entries before hand? At what time did they first apply for city funds? I am confused it seems these test all started spontaneously and curious who actually gets those speeds

Also why Kristie Adair is listed as the owner/operator on the application to the city but the Secretary of State's corp directory site list Joshua Montgomery as the President or equivalent and Kris Adair as the Secretary or Equivalent in the Annual report submitted December 2012.

I know to some this may seem trivial but once the schools start requesting part of the network well it may become quite an issue...

Mike Hoffmann 4 years, 10 months ago

I've had more problems with my cable in the last month with Wow than I did in the previous 2 years with Knology. Maybe the timing of the problems are just coincidental, maybe not. I do know I've been bombarded with advertising from Wow telling us how great their customer service is. Meanwhile, I have to call them to ask why the repair technician has not shown up an hour after the 2 hour appointment window I was given. So far, I am far from impressed with Wow and look forward to the day when they do not have a monopoly on cable service in Eudora.

midwestmom 4 years, 10 months ago

GOOGLE FIBER, GOOGLE FIBER, GOOGLE FIBER - PLEASE, PLEASE COME TO DOUGLAS COUNTY!!!! Or Wicked or whomever is willing and able to provide reliable fast internet, cable and telephone. Service in Eudora is ridiculously expensive and BAD!!!

tir 4 years, 10 months ago

I've noticed recently that on WOW cable The Weather Channel often pixilates and black-screens badly when there is some sort of severe weather threatening Douglas County. This is a serious problem, considering that the main reason people watch TWC is to find out if a tornado or grapefruit size hail is about to hit their neighborhood. I've resorted to watching only KC and Topeka stations to get weather coverage during storms. What's odd is that the Weather Channel problems always clear up when the weather does. What's up with that?

gatekeeper 4 years, 10 months ago

I got so sick of all the issues with Knology/Wow a few months back that I switched to AT&T. I often work from home and constantly had my internet service go out (multiple times per day) and it was so slow when it did work. TV sucked. They removed a lot of good channels and what we still had was expensive and cut out all the time.

AT&T isn't necessarily the best, but is sooooo much better than Knology/Wow. It was a pain getting it all set up correctly, but not once have I lost my internet connection, the speed is what they said it would be and they offer a lot of great channels that others don't. With their promotional rate, it is MUCH cheaper than Knology/Wow for two years. After two years, it's not as cheap, but still cheaper. And they have the wireless DVR system and it rocks! Knology would cut off the start and end of shows often on recordings, but not with AT&T. You don't get the Topeka channels and for local weather you use a weather app through the cable box instead of TWC. I can live with that for better service and cheaper prices. I'm paying about $80 less per month than I did with Knology and they gave us a $250 rebate.

Now when I work from home, I get to actually work instead of constantly resetting my modem, calling Knology, etc....

Not trying to push AT&T, just passing along the info in case anyone was thinking of switching. The promo price is good for two years, but you only have to sign a one year contract.

Brandon Devlin 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm with you. . .did the same thing. AT&T isn't perfect but i've had so fewer problems than I did with Knology. . .

Plus the fact that they took away one of my favorite channels and had no interest in bringing it back sealed the deal. The multi-room DVR was just a bonus!

John Pearson 4 years, 10 months ago

Each time the system has sold, the monthly bill goes up and the service decays. After finally getting fed up with the pauses and freeze frame action on almost all channels (and a noticeable drop in download time), I called WOW and was told, simperingly, that the system was being repaired for some unspecified break. I was guided thru a reboot of the boxes - which resulted in a slight improvement in the freeze-frame effect but no difference in the speed on the internet. I'm going to give them to the end of the month and then see about switching. If the price goes up again or service doesn't improve, I'll try ATT.
Frankly, the biggest deterrent to having to change my email address and send 1000 emails telling everyone.

Mike Hatch 4 years, 10 months ago

I loved the notice I got of the $7 increase in the mail a few days ago.

Same here...don't think it's coincidence that TV service got really bad just as the switch was made. Have had Sunflower/Knology cable since the late 80s. In all that time, I've never had such bad TV reception as in the last 3 weeks or so. Constant pixilation, audio off about one second from the video, and something I've never experienced: the black screen saying "Not available" or something like that. So I called. Got a guy who seemed to not give a hang, spoke in a jovial tone the whole time and just said "they knew" about the problems. No reason why, no estimate of when it'd be resolved. Haven't noticed any issues with internet. Yet.


Pr0digy 4 years, 10 months ago

Could somebody who has a buisness interentest in Community Wireless communications please give me a response even if a retort over the questions posed above? Or amswer how people claimmWicked Doesn't have data caps yet it has a very defined traffic shaping policy?

JJLawTop 4 years, 10 months ago

It's pretty sad that in 2013 the best home Internet option in Lawrence, KS is a 22 Mbps maximum connection that fluctuates almost constantly. I called WOW! today hoping for a 30 or 50 Mbps package but alas, Palladium is as good as it gets.

jafs 4 years, 10 months ago

According to their website, they have a 50mb internet speed available.

JJLawTop 4 years, 10 months ago

I saw that as well. According to the lady I talked to the Gold package is not available in Lawrence.

jj14 4 years, 10 months ago

WHEN WILL WE GET HBO GO? I feel like we are in the STONE AGES here!!!

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