WOW! wants into Oberlin cable market

By Jason Hawk -

Looking for another cable television and Internet option?

WOW! intends to expand its operations into Oberlin this summer, pending a pole attachment deal with city officials.

Wide Open West, headquartered in Denver, is the sixth-largest cable provider in the nation.

The company’s surveyors were spotted in town in the latter part of 2017. Recently, Michael Kaczmarski, director of operations for the Cleveland area, confirmed to the News-Tribune that an Oberlin build-out of new lines is planned for this summer.

City council doesn’t have much say. Ohio Senate Bill 117 allows telecom companies to wire cities for Internet and video. That includes fiber optic or standard coaxial cable, antennae, and a variety of other equipment that can be mounted in the right-of-way.

What Oberlin can do is negotiate an agreement for use of public utility poles.

For example, neighboring Amherst just locked down a deal to charge $9.43 per pole per year, which at just shy of 2,500 poles amounts to $23,500 in annual income from WOW!.

Doug McMillan, who heads Oberlin’s electric department, said he has had talks with WOW! about pole fees and is waiting for the company to provide paperwork. The city must offer the same attachment fee schedule to all telecom companies, so WOW! will get the same rate extended to Oberlin Cable Co-op and Frontier Communications.

Kaczmarski said his company is rapidly expanding service into areas where Time Warner/Spectrum has been the primary carrier for a long time.

WOW! completed builds last year in North Ridgeville and Parma Heights. Growth on the east side of Cleveland has been especially brisk. Right now the company is working on an agreement to extend service to South Amherst; whether New Russia and other townships will be included remains to be seen.

In addition to television, the company plans to offer Internet packages with speeds of 100 MB, 500 MB, 1 GB.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk