WOW! sees Florida as a 'key market' in its greenfield strategy

Wide Open West! (WOW!) made services available in two more Florida communities – Casselberry, Forest City – where residents and businesses now have access to symmetrical fiber internet speeds up to 5 Gbps.

In an announcement, WOW! said Central Florida is a "key market" in its greenfield expansion strategy, with a goal of reaching 150,000 homes passed in the region's Seminole and Orange counties.  Since adding its first customers in Central Florida in January, WOW! now offers services in Altamonte Springs and Wekiwa Springs.

The company also this week made service available at the nearby townhome community, Enclave at Altamonte.

Construction is already underway in several other communities including Longwood, Winter Springs, Lake Mary, Sanford and Sanlando Springs, while “pre-construction activities” have begun in Fairview Shores, Fern Park, Goldenrod, Ocoee and Winter Garden.

WOW! has in the past primarily served the Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Illinois and Michigan. As of September 30, WOW! had passed a total of 25,500 new homes as part of its expansion initiatives, including a total of 14,100 greenfield homes in central Florida.  

A spokesperson for WOW! told Fierce Telecom that the funding for projects in Florida is sourced through WOW!’s sale of five markets in 2021, which they said transformed WOW! to a “low-leverage, high-growth company and increasing WOW!’s ability to expand into new markets.”

The spokesperson said WOW! is continuing to see strong results in its new greenfield markets, although the penetration rate came down during this last quarter to 12.1%.

“This is due to the timing of when the company has been adding new homes passes,” they added. “WOW! remains confident in its ability to build out new markets and rapidly increase penetration in those markets.” 

Still, WOW! set low expectations for the fourth quarter during its last earnings call, when it reported a loss of 5,000 broadband subscribers and a net loss of $104.5 million in the third quarter.

When asked whether that might affect the progress of expansion projects in Central Florida, the spokesperson said WOW! is “taking several steps to help mitigate the expected subscriber losses in the fourth quarter,” which runs parallel with what CEO Teresa Elder said during earnings earlier this month.

The spokesperson added it will be “difficult to fully estimate the scope of these losses and the impact that it will have on our fourth quarter results.”

A bright spot for the company has been its record high-speed data revenue, which increased more than 7% in the third quarter from the same period last year. More than 80% of the provider’s new customers are buying speeds above 500 Mbps across its entire footprint.

“We continue to have confidence and believe in our plans including our expansion initiatives in Florida as well as other regions,” the WOW! spokesperson said.

WOW! expects to reach its target of 400,000 homes passed in greenfield markets by 2027, which includes the 150,000 in Florida.