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WideOpenWest will build out new fiber to the home, starting 2022

WOW CEO Teresa Elder says the cable internet provider's broadband future includes fiber.

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WideOpenWest

In an effort to go from being a cable company to becoming a broadband-first challenger, WideOpenWest plans to add at least 200,000 fiber-to-the-home subscribers within the next five years, CEO Teresa Elder said in an investor day webcast on Thursday.

"We expect to grow our footprint by 200,000 homes and envision a plan where we could get up to 400,000 homes or more by 2027," Elder said. She mentioned that the cost of fiber-to-the-home builds has essentially reached parity with hybrid fiber-coaxial cable. "We plan to use 100% fiber-to-the-home in all new markets."

As of December 2020, WOW offered home internet service to 2.4% of the US population, with fiber plans available to 2.51% of subscribers.

Ry Crist/CNET

WOW is a broadband provider headquartered in Denver that currently serves nearly 2 million customers across 14 markets in the US, including portions of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee. Per the Federal Communications Commission, fiber was available to 2.51% of WOW subscribers as of December 2020 -- the addition of 200,000 new fiber hookups would potentially bring that percentage to 10%, or close to it.

WOW plans to begin building this FTTH network in 2022, with the addition of new subscribers expected to occur in 2023. Elder also shared that the company's existing HFC network is ready for current and future demand without having to be rebuilt, so cable should keep its place as the primary technology in WOW's established markets. 

The addition of 200,000 to 400,000 subscribers over the next five years is not unrealistic. Similar cable internet companies saw subscriber growth of between 100,000 and 150,000 yearly during the pandemic. But in many cases, a portion of that growth can be attributed to acquisitions. For example, Cable One noted in its Q3 reports that it gained 19,000 subscribers in its "Hargray Acquisition." Astound Broadband picked up over 127,000 residential and business customers from WOW in a sale recently completed in November.

Elder did not reveal the specific regions in the US where WOW will begin building in 2022, but did say they would be nonadjacent to its existing markets.