WOW! Internet Review
With speeds up to 1,000 Mbps and no data cap, WOW! is a good fit for streamers, gamers, or households with many connected devices. Stand-alone internet plans are affordable — though some competitors offer more speed for a similar price. If you’re on the fence, you can try WOW! essentially risk-free thanks to free installation and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
On its website, WOW! boasts “award-winning customer service with 24/7/365 customer support.”
Is it true?
Not exactly. While the customer service line may be available 24/7, WOW! hasn’t won any awards for customer satisfaction since 2013 (when it ranked #1 among cable internet providers in PC Magazine’s Readers’ Choice awards).
Large households looking for high speeds
Light users or small households looking for inexpensive baseline speeds
Affordable high-tier plans
For most people, we recommend speeds of at least 25 Mbps: the FCC’s current baseline for what’s considered broadband (AKA high speed) internet. But gamers, streamers, telecommuters, and large households will have a better experience with much higher speeds. In this sense, WOW! delivers. WOW!’s 1,000 Mbps plan places it in an elite subset of high speed internet providers — several others top out at 500 Mbps or less. The affordable 1,000 Mbps plan makes speed practical for many budgets, with plenty of bandwidth to power multiple devices at once.
No data cap
While many providers have begun instituting data caps, WOW! plans are still unlimited. Typical data caps for high speed internet fall at 1 TB or 1,000 GB per month, which is roughly equal to 100 hours of 4K streaming. The average user likely won’t hit these limits, but WOW!’s unlimited option is still a great safety net for large households or users who do a lot of online gaming.
30-day money-back guarantee
Feeling frustrated with your current provider? New customers can try WOW! risk-free for 30 days. Installation is included at no charge, and if you cancel in the first 30 days, you won’t owe an early termination fee. After those 30 days are up, 12-month and 24-month contracts carry early termination fees of up to $165 and $345 respectively.
Lack of low-tier plan options
WOW! Internet plans start at 100 Mbps in most areas. If you don’t have many devices, don’t stream entertainment or play online games, and mostly use the internet to check weather, news, or email, there are more cost-effective options out there. Comcast Xfinity has a 25 Mbps plan for about half the price. DSL providers and pay-as-you-go providers like FreedomPop are also worth a look if speed isn’t a priority.
Because WOW! is a cable internet provider, it delivers internet access via coaxial cables that were designed for cable TV service. While fiber-optic internet providers like Verizon Fios offer symmetrical (equally fast) upload and download speeds, cable providers’ upload speeds are more limited due to technological restrictions. WOW! doesn’t specify upload speeds on its plans page or at checkout, but according to WhistleOut and BroadbandNow, upload speeds clock in around 1/10th of advertised download speeds.
Price increase in year two
Check out the fine print on WOW!’s plans page: Promotional pricing is listed for a two-year agreement, but the price is only guaranteed for your first year. In the second year, your service will cost about $10 more per month. The other option is to go contract-free; however, if you do that, your price could increase at any time, not just at the second year mark.
Lack of pricing transparency online
Mysterious bundle pricing is typical across the internet service industry. In WOW!’s case, it’s difficult to compare the value of bundle options because rates for stand-alone TV and phone aren’t advertised online. The Internet 100 plan sports fine print that reads “[get] Internet 100 for $19.99/mo when bundled,” but this information is not provided for other plan options.
WOW! vs. Charter Spectrum
Charter Spectrum is the second-largest ISP in the US, and its coverage area overlaps significantly with WOW!’s. Spectrum customers in some areas can get double the speed for close to the same price as WOW!’s 100 Mbps plan. In addition to a 30-day satisfaction guarantee like WOW’s, Spectrum will pay up to $500 in early termination fees for switchers who want to get out of a contract with another provider. If it’s available in your area and you want that extra speed, Spectrum is worth looking into.
WOW! vs. Comcast Xfinity
With service in 40 states, Comcast Xfinity is also available in many areas that WOW! services, and it often tops WOW! for speed. On the Netflix ISP Speed Index, which measures “prime time Netflix performance,” Xfinity ranks high at number four, while WOW! clocks in at #8. Xfinity also offers higher top speeds, up to a whopping 2,000 Mbps (2 Gbps) in some areas. In addition, it received a perfect 5/5 Power Circles for reliability in J.D. Power’s ISP satisfaction study (North Central region), while WOW! wasn’t rated. If consistently high speeds and reliability are important to you, Xfinity may be the way to go. Keep in mind, though, that Xfinity customers pay an installation fee of $30-$90, even if they choose DIY installation.
WOW! Internet FAQ
Pricing varies by location. In Columbus, Ohio, where the largest number of WOW! subscribers live, pricing ranges from $30-$70 per month for 100 Mbps-1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) plans. In Dothan, Alabama, only the 100 Mbps plan is advertised, and it’ll run you $10 more than the same plan in Columbus.
WOW! offers 100 Mbps, 500 Mbps, and 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) plans in most service areas. Although a 10 Mbps plan may be available in some areas, it isn’t widely advertised, and it doesn’t offer significant savings over the 100 Mbps plan. Note: Some speed tiers may be unavailable where you live.
The Bottom Line
While there are more cost-effective options if speed isn’t a priority, WOW! Internet is worth considering for moderate to intensive internet use. Enter your ZIP code in top providers’ websites to find out which are available in your area — and how WOW!’s pricing stacks up to the local competition.