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Time Warner Cable Acquires NewWave Communications Systems in Tenn., Ky.

Phillip Dampier June 14, 2011 Consumer News, Time Warner Cable 10 Comments

Time Warner Cable will acquire cable systems in western Tennessee and Kentucky owned by NewWave Communications for $260 million in cash, the company announced this morning.

Some 70,000 subscribers are affected by the sale, expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.  It marks Time Warner’s first entry into the state of Tennessee, currently dominated by Comcast and Charter Cable.  In Kentucky, Time Warner already serves around 100,000 customers.

The transaction will make NewWave Communications, already a tiny cable operator, even smaller as it plans to continue serving 80,000 customers in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, and South Carolina and those formerly served by Avenue Broadband in Indiana and Illinois.

Time Warner’s cash deal increases speculation the company also remains interested in acquiring Insight Communications, another cable operator up for sale with systems in the same region served by NewWave.  Time Warner Cable favors large regional operations serving contiguous territories.  But if a bidding war erupts, CEO Glenn Britt has warned the company won’t pay a premium price for mergers and acquisitions.

NewWave’s subscribers have been through a lot in the last decade.  Many were originally served by aging cable systems owned and operated by Charter Cable, who sold them to NewWave with mixed results.  NewWave’s public image is tarnished to some degree by some of its vocal, disaffected customers.  The company endures a “NewWave Communications Sucks” Facebook page and blog posts like, New Wave Communications: The Worst ISP in America.  The most frequent complaints: poor service and oversold broadband slowing down in the evenings.

Competition for NewWave is primarily from the phone companies, often AT&T and Frontier Communications.

Currently there are 10 comments on this Article:

  1. jr says:

    There’s always money for mergers but “we have to cap!”

  2. Ben says:

    Time Warner was in Memphis before Comcast. All of their customers, equipment, and Time Warner office locations have all been switched over to Comcast several years back. I think there was a deal where Comcast gave up something in Los Angeles to Time Warner and TW gave Memphis to Comast, iirc.

    • This was probably before the entity Time Warner Cable, Inc. was created, after being spun off from AOL/Time-Warner. Thanks for the added insight, which explains why I didn’t find a history of Time Warner Cable in Tenn. before.

  3. Stan says:

    I’ve been a NewWave customer since they acquired Charter’s Kentucky assets, and I’ve not seen any of the technical issues with my service that the FB and blog posters make (customer service yes, actual products, no). The only issue of note was the long wait for a DVR box, from the local system being so run down by Charter that the system software/hardware was not exactly conducive to modern HD/DVR box designs, and cost them more than what TWC and other big companies could get by ordering in bulk – many customers still have cable boxes from Charter, or its predecessor, from lack of funds for system-wide upgrades.

    On the other hand, one of my friends who runs a small business got the run-around last week about getting his business service set up, after a relocation. However, this is likely due to the fact it occurred after the sale was announced, and it’s rumored that the entire office in his area, with the possible exception of the counter staff, are probably going to be canned by TWC because of their half-assing their business customers.

    Similar things occurred during the Charter/NW transition, where the then-Charter employees were loathe to do major work on infrastructure they had already agreed to sell (then had a lightning strike nearby require Charter to replace the outside infrastructure for a 100 home neighborhood less than a month before the system changed hands).

    Most of NW’s issues I’ve heard about are from legacy employees that worked for Charter and other system bought out, that should have been fired in those transitions, and legacy equipment that NW couldn’t really afford to replace quickly after the acquisitions. Frankly, the current state of the NW-owned system here is massively improved over the planned negligence that Charter had as its policy before they took over. I’m sorry to see them go.

    Perhaps the $260 million will let them do the needed upgrades for their MO & IL customers, since they’d really overextended themselves by suddenly expanding 300-400 miles from their home office with the Charter acquisitions, and didn’t really have the ability to properly monitor the behavior of their employees out here. On the other hand, TWC has had a presence here since about the same time, after they acquired another large company that got run into the ground by its owner using its funds as personal cash (forget the name, but IIRC is was a big national financial scandal at the time; something about a hockey team?)

    This is one of those cases where a transaction makes sense for both the customers and the companies. And, after the BS I put up with Windstream, the fact that only one cell company has enough signal to pick up at my house (and definitely not a strong enough signal to use for computing) and seeing the BS friends have dealt with coming from DirecTV and Dish (you couldn’t PAY me to have a dish, or ever be a windstream customer again), I’ll continue to be a happy cable customer for the forseeable future.

    • Itsme says:

      I am one of the NewWave customers having problems. Their service is horrible. I was with my previous provider for almost ten years until I seen a flyer showing me everything I could get for the same price I was already paying. I sacrificed quality for quantity. I wish I had never seen that damn flyer.

  4. Ronnie Null says:

    Yet another COMPLETELY unsatisfied New Wave Communications Customer in the Bootheel of Missouri. My previous internet provider was AT&T, which unfortunately only had (and has currently) 6M speeds available in my area. On every single site that I use regularly, or even those that I used intermittently or even completely randomly, I would get a reliable ~1M give or take a few hundred KB.

    Roughly 3 months ago now, I saw a New Wave tech doing an install about 5 houses down from mine on my street, and thought, “Hey, why not ask about their internet packages?” The inner geek in me was then extremely “aroused” by the concept of the 50M connection the tech told me just recently had become available in my area. I jumped on that in a heartbeat and barely batted an eye at the $105.00 pricetag. 50M was eons faster than what I had right? Surely it was worth an additional 45-50 bucks a month! When I first got the service, there was a slight improvement in streaming speeds/page loads from very common websites such as youtube, amazon, msn, google, bing, etc. Nothing to bow down in amazement of. So then I start doing speedtests on both the Windows XP Home laptop and the Windows Vista 32bit Desktop that I owned (and both worked!) at the time. These showed roughly 24-34M down speeds. (I only use wired connections.) So then I go to actually install a few games/apps/programs/updates/patches from such sites as Blizzard Entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment, Itunes, Microsoft.com and I realize I’m only getting an actual 2M down speed, which varies down to 1M randomly, but in the 3 months I’ve owned it and the tons of downloads I have done (or at least attempted) I’ve seen a total of about 12 minutes of speeds greater than 2M, and it was 5-6M on the same sites I had already downloaded these things, or had to redownload, because my hard drive died on my computer (Seagate firmware issue) a couple of weeks after receiving this internet. (My main rig at the time.) EVERY OTHER TIME I HAVE DOWNLOADED ANYTHING FROM ANYWHERE I HAVE NOT GOTTEN OVER 2M! It will reach 2M, hit 2.1, then drop to 1.6. Repeat, drop to 1.7. Repeat, so on and so forth. Never going over 2M. On this 50M connection! I have called New Wave Customer Service on the order of 10-15 times if not more regarding this exact same issue. They even sent an engineer to my house on one of these visits, and he plugs in his laptop and gets 32M on a speedtest. Like this is supposed to tell me something? I had just performed the speedtest before I ever called them, and saw what it said, but I also saw what I was getting in actual down speeds from a plethora of different sites. This could be downloading a YouTube vid with Realplayer, downloading an album from Itunes, downloading the game client for World of Warcraft, downloading the Star Wars The Old Republic beta game client, or even downloading updates from Microsoft. 2M.

    So, I gathered as many details as I could about the symptoms it was exhibiting, mainly the fact that I could have the same download queued up multiple times (around 5 copies) and receive almost the exact down speeds on all 5 copies. Roughly 2M. Which is effectively 10M down. But for some reason I can only get 2M on a single file from anywhere. I then called New Wave, and spent the next several minutes attempting to explain my extremely frustrated situation to the apparently clueless customer support rep, and after a bit of this, the rep apparently thought he had muted his mic, and he actually paused for a minute then said “Shut the F*** up…” Immediately I was like, “Excuse me?” and asked to speak to his supervisor, and informed him of this incredible lapse in both judgment, customer service ability, and humanity in this individual. He (the supervisor) made sure he gave me his name/email, and said he would definitely look into this as this wasn’t the type of thing that was expected of New Wave Employees. Ya think???? Other than that he didn’t seem all that perturbed by this turn of events. Over the next month and a half or so up until now, I have called repeatedly about this exact same issue. Seeing a huge number on http://www.speedtest.net, then actually going to download something from ANYWHERE, and not getting over 2M.

    This past Saturday (Aug 27th, 2011) my speeds dropped down to about 200-400KB/s with epic slowdowns to 5KB/s that was sustained over several hours. I immediately called, and they said (once again) “We’ll send a tech out.” This tech, (that I had seen several times already) seemed genuinely interested in at least attempting to figure out what this issue was, as clearly 2M wasn’t even close to what I was paying for, and he told me he would requisition an laptop and a DOCSIS 3.0 like my own and test various points in the line up to my house. This was supposed to take place yesterday. Nothing was fixed as of this morning.

    So today, I called and actually asked to speak to the on-duty technical supervisor, as clearly, all of the times I had recounted the exact symptoms I was having to the “normal” employees were either misunderstood, misinterpreted, or completely misplaced. After a 27minute hold, I then spoke to “Cody the Technical Supervisor” and then reiterated once again my situation. He at this point told me “Well, I was unaware that you were having these types of issues (i.e. the multiple files queuing at the same speed while one file only does 2M, pages taking sometimes over a minute to load (simple pages like email or bing) or especially since this past Saturday, roughly 40-50% of the sites I was clicking on were saying server not found, cannot find website, or check your internet connection, although the connection indicator at my status tray showed a valid connection, and the lights on the modem showing the same.

    Cody then tells me that yes, this does sound like a modem issue, and he would make sure a tech brought a new DOCSIS 3.0 out today to see if that remedied the issue. He also told me that he was “teaking a few things” and shortly thereafter, my speeds normalized at their standard 2M.

    At around 5:30, this gentleman comes to the door, a New Wave “tech”. And the first thing he does is the same thing all the other techs have done (and the ONLY thing the other techs have done) is run the speedtest.net and once again, unsurprisingly, it shows a high number, this time 42M. So at this point he tells me clearly there’s NOTHING wrong with the modem or the internet service. So I then begin recounting all of the issues I’ve had, and the fact that I only get 2M, and he says “Well, what servers are these?” I then tell him EVERY FREAKING SERVER. This obviously isn’t good enough, so we go and begin downloading things. The blizzard downloader at that was showing 2M. It would hit 2.1, then drop to 1.7. Hit 2.1 drop to 1.5, and repeat this forever. I also told him that I had downloaded the client for WoW, from the Blizzard Entertainment content servers (Blizzard Entertainment is at the very least one of the richest game developers in the world with BEEFY servers with which to handle their nearly 12 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS) and told him that 3 of the 5 guys that were in my ventrilo channel had just downloaded this same file that I had just downloaded, 2 with 30M connections getting roughly 12M and 1 with a 20M connection getting about 6.8M down, and all three had made it into the game (same size file) hours before I was able to on my 50M connection.

    So Mr. Internet tech says well I’m going to go out back and check some stuff. I went and used the restroom, and went out back to smoke, and he wasn’t there. He was in fact out front, sitting in his van, speaking to someone on his cell. So then he asks me “Did you actually see these speeds these people told you they were getting?” and “They couldn’t possibly be getting those kind of speeds because the person he had just spoken with told him that no one would be able to download from them if they were pushing that kind of speed.” Unknown person on the other end of the line was CLEARLY an idiot with a capital IDIOT.

    Mr. Tech guy then proceeds to in about as many words tell me that no one really gets over 2M on the internet anyways… to which I promptly replied, “So you’re honestly telling me that no one in the effn world gets more than 2M on the internet????? Are you effn serious? That is BS and you know it.” He then replied, “Well, I don’t know….”

    So then I go into hardcore “You gotta believe that this is complete BS mode…” and we went into the computer and proceeded to download from several different sites where my undeniable download speeds were between 400KB/s-2.1M. He then tells me that he wants me to email him all those sites because he has the same internet I do, and my modem is showing 42M and his doesn’t show that much.

    So I then asked Mr. Internet Tech what his download speeds were. He told me, “I don’t know, I just download stuff and let it do it’s thang.” This is supposedly a high-speed Internet Technician that doesn’t even know his own actual download speeds?

    So I set out to compose a list of commonly used sites with readily accessible downloads in addition to a few of the other game type downloads that he could attempt in addition to all these others (some of my examples included Microsoft where I could get nothing at all to download, and http://www.bing.com which would not load for 7 successive attempts, each time telling me that there is no internet connection even though my status tray and modem tell me otherwise) and thought to include some of the several complaints I had personally read over these past couple of months about New Wave Communications that reeked of the same S*** i’ve been dealing with all this time, and stumbled across this particular page, and felt obligated to include my horror story. Needless to say, if this isn’t resolved by the end of this billing cycle, I’m going back to my much more reliable 6M connection from AT&T DSL.

    So a word of warning to all potential New Wave Communications customers who hear 50M!!! and go “wow” and sign up, most likely you’re not going to get even 5% of what you’re paying for, and if this proves to be the case, New Wave will most certainly be rude to you, call you stupid, exhibit utter stupidity of their own, lie, and continue to charge outrageous prices for NOTHING.

    Buyer be warned…

  5. Jake Leonard says:

    I am a NewWave customer in their Illinois territory, which was acquired from Charter.

    People complain too damn much about their service. I get what they advertise AND I attach a wireless router (with 10x boost) to my 10Meg connection. No problems at all with or without it.

    I remember when Charter was in Central Illinois – and I clearly remember getting ripped off. $225/month for phone, cable and Internet service? That’s a ripoff! (I now have Dish Network and phone & Internet service with NewWave – combined comes to $85/month.)

    Just be wary of Time Warner: they’re about as much of a ripoff as Charter Communications or even Consolidated Communications!

    • They are almost all engaged in overcharging, but I’d much rather have Time Warner Cable than the dismal Charter Communications (or worse, Mediacom). You are getting an excellent price at just $85 for a triple play package. Time Warner charges a regular price at least $50 more a month for that.

  6. Randy Bentley says:

    Some idiots claim that they have no problems and get what they pay for when they’ve never ran a speed test. I’ve personally tested several of Newwaves connections in my area, London, Ky, and nobody gets what they pay for, 2megs upstream, that’s it. They advertised 10 meg as the big thing here for up and down. I don’t have time to write a post about my dealings with them, but it would rival Ronnie Nulls.

    I sit here at day 7 awaiting a tech to show up and “fix” my problem so I can look forward to seeing him again next week, or at the latest, next month.

  7. Tammy Tichenor says:

    Newwave was absolutley horrible. I have complained on a monthly basis to them and they kept sending people and it never got better. We even paid to have ATT and Newwave internet for a year because both were so unreliable that we hoped one would at least work on any given day. Time Warner came once and said we were good. And once again that night it didn’t work. Phone was even going out now because it runs on same line. Time Warner came second time gave me a new box and we are flying on the net now. I wish I wouldn’t have let other two companies push me around and take my money with false promises for so long. Lesson learned. I kept telling them modem was bad. They came and added their own router but never changed modem. Time Warner changed modem and we are grand. I am so glad Newwave is gone. Now if Verizon would come and let me rid myself of ATT cell, I would be great.

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