Archive for Friday, January 13, 2017

Sale of Lawrence cable TV, internet operations finalized; new owner says changes in store

WOW officials have announced the sale of the Lawrence cable, telecom and internet provider that includes the Channel 6 TV station.

WOW officials have announced the sale of the Lawrence cable, telecom and internet provider that includes the Channel 6 TV station.

January 13, 2017, 11:16 a.m. Updated January 13, 2017, 9:23 p.m.

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After its sale was finalized Friday, changes are in store for one of the area’s main providers of cable, internet and phone services.

The sale of WOW to Midco was announced in October, and Midco announced Friday that the acquisition is final. Midco officials say that potential changes for the Lawrence services — including the possibility for gigabit internet — will be discussed now that the company has changed hands.

“We are going to listen to what the employees are telling us and what the customers are saying — what the wants and needs are,” said Debbie Stang, chief operating officer for Midco. “And we will start rolling out new products, new services on a tiered basis based on what we’re hearing that they want in the marketplace.”

Stang said the company will be evaluating all of WOW’s services as part of a strategic planning procress, which will determine whether the Lawrence area will eventually join other Midco customers who have the option of the gigabit internet service

Stang said the strategic plan will include input from some of WOW’s current management as well as market analysis, and will result in a project plan for the next two years. As part of the sale, Midco has also acquired Channel 6, which broadcasts daily news, weather and sports, as well as other local shows such as “The Not So Late Show.”

As with WOW’s other services, Stang said the future operations of Channel 6 will also be determined as part of the strategic plan.

“With regards to Channel 6, the information I’ve gotten to this point is it’s got a long, great history — live games, original programming, a newscast — and we’re excited to learn more about that,” Stang said.

Midco is a regional cable, internet and service provider with businesses in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota. WOW has more than 30,000 customers in Douglas, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties, who will be added to 350,000 customers that Midco currently serves.

Stang said working to provide more reliable service — WOW had multiple service outages over the past weekend — will also be talked about.

“We have to get our arms around what are the outages, what’s causing them, what best practices has Midco put in place to avoid and respond to outages,” Stang said. “That will absolutely be talked about in the planning.”

A complete change of billing and service packages, though, won’t happen right away. During a transitional period of up to six months, WOW staff in the Lawrence office will continue to provide the same services to Lawrence-area customers. An operational transfer of services will be announced at a later date, and Stang said though there are differences in packages, prices will be comparable.

“I would expect the overall dollars, depending on what services you have, could absolutely remain close to being the same,” Stang said.

Stang said 68 WOW employees were kept on as part of the sale, with less than five people laid off as a result of the acquisition. However, Stang said that adding to Midco’s Lawrence-area staff in future is a possibility. She said the company’s service operations will not stay in the Riverfront Plaza, and that Midco is in the process of finalizing a lease for a different building.

“We know we’re going to bring new products, we know we’re going to be bringing new services into this marketplace,” Stang said. “We’re confident that we’re going to going to be able to grow our customer base, and with that will come jobs.”

Comments

Jean Robart 11 months ago

Call me a cynic, but how long will this ownership last before another regional group buys it out?

Paul Beyer 11 months ago

If it lasts 2 years, I'll be surprised. Dolph's sell out of Sunflower has ruined any chance of ever having a good cable company in Lawrence again. Each new owner is worse than the previous one. Notice they are still hiding the fact that most current employees will be fired.

Cary Ediger 11 months ago

Paul thanks for the compliment on Sunflower. We tried to take care of every customer.

I was one of the first set of 80 "right sized"... laid off when Sunflower was sold to Knology.

For 13 years I heard from customers "I'll be glad when a real cable company buys you, you s#ck"

Enjoying the last 2 "real" cable companies yet ?

Alex Landazuri 11 months ago

i was wondering the same thing. it has changed at lest 3 times in the last 8 years i think. sunflower to knowldegy to wow.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 months ago

Happy to see them go. Their rural internet sucked.

Mike Edson 11 months ago

It's not going to change service or quality. Back when I had COX cable years ago they were just fine. Why doesn't COX just buy into this market?

Richard Aronoff 11 months ago

"“I would expect the overall dollars, depending on what services you have, could absolutely remain close to being the same,” Stang said."

Riiiiiiight.

Michael Kort 11 months ago

Here comes debt......and.i bet that "We The Consumers" will pay for that .

Will my bill go up ? ,,,,,,,Probably, to pay for the debt and interest on this next "sell out corporate cable company deal" .

With new equipment to upgrade their system to gigabit service for those obsessed with playing high tech games or business and edu users, will the average 30 megabit user be forced to buy more speed at a higher monthly cost, as WOW did do a few years ago with their less than 30GB users ?

Will they force slower speeds users to upgrade their own private modems ( and monthly bill ) to work with their great idea of "gigabit whoopie" that many of us could live without ?

Well, they are probably already planing to sell their customers to somebody else someday which is the real future plan of any cable companies !

Ken Schmidt 11 months ago

Hi Michael, I do share your disdain for seeing the local cable company sold, yet again, to another small and regional outfit. You do make a good point regarding increased prices...no price change, right! All the same, very soon, most of your "television" will be delivered al-la-carte over the internet and the cable industry is fighting this tooth-and-nail while trying to hold together an antiquated business model. Innovation is moving away from that model and soon, you will want to have that internet connection just to receive your normal shows. I would say take your well-placed anger and not be upset with the gigabit offering, but place it in our city council who continues to drag their feet when allowing open competition in our area for the 30,000 subscribers who would prefer a choice in our provider. AT&T is not a choice since thier service is IPTV and already internet based service. They throttle your speed if they find you are streaming live television in conflict to their offerings.

Clara Westphal 11 months ago

Midco can start by having a live 10 p.m. newscast. As of now, the night news is just a video tape of the 6 p.m. news except for weather and sports.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 11 months ago

I do not know as much about this situation as most of you folks do, but I do know I am very frustrated finding my internet service unavailable without notice. And no refund for the lost service.

Lawrence is obviously a poor market for good internet, phone and cable TV service, other wise we should be getting better service. I see a lot of those antennas around town indicating that the resident has satellite service.

In an age vastly changed (and ravaged, not always for the better) by technology, we seem to be sucking hind tit in the market.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 11 months ago

I had not heard about the refunds. That is good news. I don't think it has happened before.

Andrew Applegarth 11 months ago

I got a credit once before after an extended outage, but I can't remember if that was here with Sunflower or somewhere else. It does seem to be a rarer thing than the outages themselves...

Clara Westphal 11 months ago

I haven't been able to get channel 35 (ESPN U ) this week even though I pay extra for the ESPN channels. Does anyone know anything about that?

Stuart Reynolds 11 months ago

We are no longer get ESPNU. Very frustrating to lose that channel. There wasn't an explanation on our bill as to why.

Richard Heckler 11 months ago

Is a request for reimbursement on this venue enough?

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