WOW! taps Reach Mobile for wireless debut

Wide Open West (WOW!) became the latest broadband provider to trot out a wireless service, partnering with MVNO aggregator Reach Mobile to make its move.

Michelle MacFee, VP of Product Management at WOW!, told Fierce the move comes in response to strong consumer demand. “Our HSD [high-speed data] customers have told us they want a wireless option to complement their WOW! Internet service. Wireless service has become one of the most highly requested products,” she explained.

Its service, branded WOW! mobile powered by Reach, will become available in a handful of markets this spring. MacFee said it’s still working to identify initial launch locations. Soon thereafter, it plans to expand the mobile offer to all of WOW!’s markets, she added.

Founded in 2018, Reach Mobile offers its own MVNO-based consumer wireless service in the U.S. But it also provides a cloud-based network monetization platform called Reach Next which allows operators to stand up their own MVNO, fixed wireless, Internet of Things, fiber broadband and private network services. Reach Next offers integrations with the company’s more than 45 mobile operator partners as well as modules for billing, policy, catalog management, data plan management, security and back-office functions.

Asked why it went the route it did rather than striking an MVNO deal directly with a tier-1 wireless operator, MacFee said leveraging Reach Next will allow WOW! to bring a mobile product to market “quickly while leveraging operational efficiencies, a full-featured platform and a great customer experience in a lower cost operating model.”

The operator’s mobile plan will be available to anyone, though its internet customers will be eligible for a discount of up to $10 on their wireless service. Few plan details were available, but WOW! indicated it will offer unlimited talk and text while MacFee stated it will provide nationwide 5G service.

RELATED: WOW! targets fiber to 400K homes by 2027

Its move comes as WOW! works to expand its broadband footprint by running fiber to 200,000 locations by 2025 and 400,000 by 2027. It kicked off its greenfield rollout with a project in Seminole County, Florida, earlier this month.

The operator joins the likes of Comcast, Charter Communications and Altice USA, all of which launched wireless services via direct MVNO deals with Verizon (Comcast and Charter) and Sprint/T-Mobile (Altice). Astound Broadband, which recently purchased WOW!’s assets in three markets, has also said it is mulling an MVNO move. Executives from both Comcast and Charter have talked up mobile as a key tool in reducing broadband churn.

MacFee echoed that sentiment. While it doesn’t expect its mobile offering to be a huge revenue generator at first, she stated “we know when customers add products and services to their accounts, loyalty improves and churn is reduced.”

But not all broadband providers are jumping on the wireless wagon. Lumen Technologies has indicated it hasn’t yet seen demand from consumers or businesses for a broadband plus mobile bundle. Meanwhile, Frontier Communications said it hasn’t seen evidence that a mobile offering would help drive broadband additions and so will continue to focus on its fiber rollout for now.