Avon Lake

Wide Open West (WOW) will soon become Time Warner Cable’s competitor in Avon Lake.

Mayor K.C. Zuber said the cable, telephone and Internet provider has filed paperwork with the state to operate in the city. He said he’d been in discussion with WOW for about a year and a half.

“I think they’ll be pretty well received by the public,” he said.

That may be an understatement as many residents have been unhappy with the service, particularly customer service, provided by Time Warner. In 2008, the Avon Lake Cable Advisory Commission surveyed residents about the cable and Internet services. More than 300 residents responded, mostly with negative comments or experiences.

With six possible answers ranging from “excellent” to no answer, 36 percent responded they felt Time Warner’s services were “fair.” Thirty-one percent answered “poor.” Only 2 percent answered “excellent.”

Comments about the company ranged from long wait times on the phone to poorly buried cables to service being shut off after a resident called in to ask some questions.

In the two years he’s been the Ward 4 Councilman and Public Utilities Committee Chair, Dave Kos said he’s received “more calls, more complaints about cable and Time Warner than anything else, probably, combined.”

That’s why Kos is excited about the new cable provider.

According to its website, WOW, based out of Denver, ranked highest in the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Residential Television Service Satisfaction Study for the North Central Region. The company received the same ranking in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The cities of Bay Village and Westlake use WOW as a provider, along with others.

Time Warner does a fair job with the city, Kos said, but what frustrates a lot of people is the lack of competition. If residents didn’t feel they weren’t getting the proper care and service, he said there wasn’t anything they could do because Time Warner was the only one in Avon Lake.

“There’s not much incentive for them to give better financial breaks on pricing or service,” he said.

Having WOW in Avon Lake won’t solve all the problems, he said, but the competition should affect Time Warner’s rates and service.

The state and city ordinances will require WOW to carry the Public Education Government (PEG) channels, he said, so residents won’t have to worry about not being able to watch City Council or local access programming if they switch from Time Warner.

“This is a great thing,” Kos said. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for two years.”

Though the state has approved WOW operating in Avon Lake, the company still needs to install its own infrastructure. Zuber said it will probably take about a year to a year and a half for all of the work to be complete.

During City Council’s Monday night work session, WOW Vice President/System Manager Kirk Zerkle explained the infrastructure installation. He said Avon Lake is the kind of community the company wants to grow within.

“The good news is we’re going to come here and take great care of the residents who choose to become our customers,” he said.

Construction should start in the next 30 to 40 days, he said, and the company will alert residents prior to any work done in their neighborhood.

“We will make this as unobtrusive to the community as possible,” he said.

Contact Bryan Wroten at bwroten@2presspapers.com

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