WOW Takes Over ex-Americast Systems

In the Midwest, it's goodbye Americast, hello WOW. WideOpenWest LLC completed its acquisition of Ameritech New Media on Nov. 30, and also obtained regulatory approval from 114 municipalities for transfer of ownership. The transaction adds 310,000 cable homes in Southeast Michigan; Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; and the Chicago area to WOW's rolls.

WOW president Mark Haverkate said employees were already answering phones under the new brand name and welcome letters have been sent out to Americast's customers. The next billing cycle will bear the WOW logo, he said.

"We're excited about this opportunity. We're spending all this month getting the transition done," Haverkate said.

Though WOW has announced plans to deploy telephony and high-speed data, the primary focus is retention, aggressive growth is not in WOW's initial plans for the region, he said.

"Look for movement in the first quarter" on deployment of enhanced video, he said. Ameritech had already deployed digital service, but WOW anticipates creating new offerings for consumers.

WOW moved some members of its senior management to the Midwest during the summer to operate the new cluster, Haverkate said. He added, "We picked up some people from [competing] companies along the way."

The company retained 30 former Ameritech managers to complete the executive team for the region.

WOW will compete against AT&T Broadband in Chicago; Comcast Corp. in Michigan; Time Warner Cable in Columbus and Adelphia Communications Corp. in Cleveland.

WOW's equity owners include Oak Hill Capital Partners and ABRY Partners. Other financial supporters are GE Capital, Bank of Montreal and Societe Generale.