Big changes in store for Chicago area non-Xfinity and AT&T customers
If you are a WOW customer in the Chicago area, you already know big changes were coming with a sale to RCN. And now, if you’re an RCN customer, changes are coming your way as well.
The parent company of RCN announced Wednesday they were uniting the various names they operate under into Astound Broadband. The other soon-to-vanish names are Grande, Wave Broadband, enTouch, and Digital West, serving various parts of the country.
“This is an exciting time for our company with our new name solidifying our commitment to ‘astound’ our customers each and every day through our national fiber-rich network, fast reliable service, mission-critical connectivity, and award -winning customer service,” Astound Broadband CEO Jim Holanda said in a statement. “Keeping ourselves grounded in our deep-rooted focus on customer service is at the core of what we do. We’ve been part of our local communities for years. Our dedicated teams will continue to serve the areas where they live and work.”
Ranked as the sixth-largest cable operator in the country, Astound has about one million customers nationwide, including in the Chicago area under the RCN name serving neighborhoods mostly on the North Side and north suburban Evanston, Lincolnwood, and Skokie. RCN expanded its footprint into Chicago’s far South and Southwest Sides with the acquisition of WOW, in the former “Area 5” cable TV franchise area, stretching roughly from 79th street to the north to the city limits west and south, basically down to 138th street. Astound also acquired systems in Indiana and Maryland. The $661 million deal closed on November 1.
Some elements of the name change would take place immediately with trucks being repainted and new uniforms being tailored. For the time being RCN is being rebranded as “Astound Broadband powered by RCN” as it transitions, with a similar moniker for WOW coming in the next few months. The rebranding makes sense given all the dizzying number of names the company operated under.
For residential WOW customers, there have already been some lineup changes made since December 31 as Cheddar, Cleo TV, Newsmax, BBC World News, and three Stadium college sports channels were removed. Also gone was NBCSN, who ceased operations altogether.
The rebranding come as households are cutting the cord on expensive cable and satellite subscriptions and preferring streaming options instead – one of the reasons cable companies are now emphasizing their broadband packages instead of traditional cable hookups. On Tuesday, satellite providers Dish and DirecTV were once again discussing a merger, given 30 percent of the latter was purchased by TPG who nearly at the same time, sold Astound Broadband to private-equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners for $8.1 billion.
After the acquisition of WOW, Astound isn’t done. The company is looking to further expand into the Chicago area to compete with more established players Comcast/Xfinity and AT&T, who in some areas customers are still stuck with slow and outdated DSL service (including the Avalon Park neighborhood, where the person writing this article currently resides.) Astound is also looking to hire more staff due to adding WOW.
In unrelated news, Atlantic Broadband – the company who bought WOW’s systems in Ohio is also rebranding, but to Breezeline.