Local internet service providers (ISPs) sometimes lack a certain something. They might be expensive or fail to reach the speeds of national providers. Omni Fiber wants to buck that trend with speedy internet at an affordable price and the promise of local customer service, but can it deliver? Spoiler alert—yes, it seems it can.
Fast, inexpensive internet with great customer service, equipment, and installation? Wow is right. This internet company is a solid choice for most people. But if you’re a heavy streamer, its cable-fiber hybrid network might not be beefy enough.
Omni Fiber offers excellent value. All three plans are competitively priced—the 1 gig plan is on par with the most affordable options we’ve reviewed, and the 2 gig plan is actually the most affordable plan of this speed we’ve seen from any provider. In addition to the low package prices, you also get equipment included at no extra cost, which further increases the value of the service.
WOW! offers 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps plans at a great price, whether or not you sign up for an optional one- or two-year contract. If you don’t mind signing a contract, WOW!’s plans will cost you about 25% of the national benchmark for a similar plan (1). After that, prices transition to month-to-month rates, which are $10 to $15 higher but still well below the benchmark.
To get WOW!’s advertised prices, you need to sign up for both autopay and paperless billing (a $5 monthly savings) and commit to a two-year contract. If you’re not sure whether you want to be chained to WOW! for that long, don’t worry too much about it. If you duck out early, you’ll pay only $15 for each month left on your contract—which isn’t much more than you’d pay if you skip the contract from the start. (2)
There are data caps of either 1.5 TB or 3 TB, depending on your plan. These are pretty high, but if you’re a heavy user, you could be charged up to $50 extra every month and have your speed throttled.
Omni Fiber performance is outstanding. Speeds are fast, with plans ranging from 500 Mbps to 2 Gbps. All three plans feature symmetrical upload speeds, which means the upload speeds are equal to the download speeds—this makes a huge difference for sharing content, particularly large files like videos. For reference, a typical upload speed for a cable provider is one tenth of the download speed (and often quite a bit lower). Finally, all Omni Fiber customers get unlimited data, which is a big thumbs up in our book.
The majority of WOW!’s network is a hybrid of cable and fiber, though some customers in Alabama still have legacy DSL service. Although fiber technology can provide up to 10 Gbps and symmetrical upload and download speeds, a hybrid network can perform only as well as cable technology allows. WOW!'s speeds top out at 1.2 gigs, which is faster than most cable providers. Your max upload speed will be 50 Mbps, which is great for cable.
For most people, an asymmetrical 1.2 Gbps connection is plenty fast. But if you upload a lot of photos or videos, WOW! might not be powerful enough. You can also face throttling if you exceed your (admittedly generous) data caps. If that’s you, a fully fiber network, if available in your area, will be your best bet. You’ll probably also want to keep shopping if you can only get DSL with WOW!
Omni Fiber’s equipment is fairly standard. The provider offers two choices: a standard gateway that’s free of charge, and a Whole Home Wi-Fi gateway you can upgrade to. The standard version, which Omni confusingly calls “premium Wi-Fi,” is a standard Wi-Fi modem and router, while the Whole Home version uses extenders to cover larger areas. It’s recommended for homes larger than about 2,000 square feet.
Mesh networks tend to work a little better than Wi-Fi extenders, but we still think the Omni Fiber system will be adequate for most homes. If you want to use your own equipment, you'll need to make sure it's compatible with a fiber connection but either way, there's no extra charge!
Omni Fiber also gets high marks for installation. There is no installation fee or other cost involved, and the technician will ensure your equipment is properly placed to cover as much of your home as possible. The only potential concern is that Omni Fiber is still building out its infrastructure, so—depending on where you live—there may be some additional construction involved.
WOW! includes a free modem for your first year ($14/month after that). You can also rent a Whole Home Wi-Fi system, which includes a coveted eero base and one extender for $9.99. Additional extenders are $5.99 each, but most households won’t need more than one because eero’s that good. eero comes with an app you can use to manage your network, and you can add security services for an additional cost (under $10/month) if you want ad-blocking, malware protection, or parental controls.
A free self-startup kit is available to most new customers, but if you prefer professional installation, it’ll cost you $75. The good news is that with professional installation, WOW! waives its $10 activation fee, so it’s really just $65 more to have a technician’s help.
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If there’s an area to be cautious with Omni Fiber, it’s customer experience. The provider promises personal, local customer support and service to its subscribers. However, remember that this is a relatively small company that is still building and growing. Omni also doesn’t have the same resources as national companies when it comes to providing support—for example, there’s no chat option yet.
On the other hand, local customer service certainly sounds better than the automated and outsourced support many large providers offer. Omni Fiber also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is promising.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that Omni Fiber is a very new company. While this isn’t inherently a bad thing, there could be growing pains. Issues like billing problems or service outages could crop up as the company gets its infrastructure sorted out.
Omni Fiber will be available first in the Ohio towns of Clyde, Dover, and Shelby. It plans to expand to small and mid-size markets in the Midwest "as quickly as possible," CEO Darrick Zucco said in a press release in August of 2022. (1)
The company, founded in 2022, has not yet been studied by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in either its annual performance tests (2) or its rate study (3).
WOW! provides an award-winning customer experience, ranking fourth-highest in J.D. Power’s ISP Satisfaction list in the North Central US region in 2022. (3)
We should note that in 2021 WOW! sold a couple regions of its business (Evansville, IN and Chicago) to Astound broadband, so customers may see some changes in their service. That said, Astound ranks fifth on P.C. Mag's Readers' Choice awards, so you're probably in good hands. (4)