‘Wave’ of change for a Seattle-born brand: Astound comes back around in latest telecom naming twist

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Astound, which launched as a small regional telecommunications service in Minneapolis in 1998 (upper left), was acquired by Kirkland, Wash.-based Wave Broadband in 2005, renamed Wave in 2015, and on Wednesday 1 was revived as a national brand for high-reaching broadband services. million customers.

India’s 6th largest cable company said on Wednesday That it will unite its regional brands under the name Astound Broadband.

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Astound Broadband’s West Coast operations, which trace their roots to the installation of Wave broadband in the Seattle area nearly two decades ago, will be referred to as “Astound Broadband powered by Wave.” Wave Business will become “Around Business Solutions”.

Astound Broadband CEO Jim Hollanda.

The integrated brand — which will also apply to RCN, Grande, nTouch and Digital West in other parts of the country — is part of a broader move by Astound to position itself for additional growth as it competes against bigger, formidable competitors like Verizon. goes. , Comcast and Lumen.

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It comes as the pandemic fuels unprecedented demand for broadband across the country, further heating up the telecom market.

“We went through many iterations, many possible names, and eventually settled on Astound, given its strong aspirational qualities,” said Jim Holland, CEO of Astound Broadband, in an interview this week.

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They are not the first working team to reach this conclusion. In fact, the Astound brand is the telecommunications industry’s version of “everything old is new again”, with a pedigree dating back nearly 25 years.

The Astound brand was the first small regional telecommunications service launched in 1998 by Serene Innovation, a think tank founded by the Minneapolis-based Northern States Power Company, around the time of the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996, which enacted regulations. and opened the industry to competition.

At that time, the power of the northern states looking for new ways to make money From the fixed wireless network that it uses for meter reading and other internal functions.

After expanding into the West Coast, Astound’s California operations were sold to Wave Broadband’s parent Wave Division Holdings by Northern States parent Xcel Energy in 2005. Kirkland-based Wave was run by founder Steve Weed at the time, which through a series of acquisitions was quietly growing into a regional giant.

A 2005 article in Minnesota St. Cloud Times Report on Wave’s acquisition of Astound in California.

A decade later, in 2015, the company name left out In favor of the Wave brand integrated in California.

Three years after that, in 2018, private equity firm TPG Capital acquired Wave and combined it with its already acquired RCN Telecom Services and Grande Communications in a $2.4 billion deal.

In November 2020, private equity firm Stonepeak Announced a deal to acquire the combined company for $8.1 billion from TPG and Patriot Media Management, Completion of transactions in August 2021,

The parent company had already adopted the Astound name, the rights to which came with the acquisition, but retained regional brands due to the strength of each brand in their respective market.

But as it continued to acquire regional broadband operations, the company realized it would need to consolidate brands, Astound CEO Holanda said this week. The rebranding was originally scheduled for 2020, but was delayed by factors including the pandemic and the process to undergo the Stone Peak acquisition.

In a future phase of the rebranding, the company says it will move to Central Texas and WOW! by the middle of this year. K will keep the Astound name on its recently acquired Harris Broadband in its Illinois, Indiana and Maryland markets.

Even with the rollout of a unified national brand, local leadership teams will remain intact, Holanda said.

On the acquisitions front, he said, the broader market has cooled in recent months as third-quarter results across the industry led to a decline or fall in valuations.

“I think people are really taking a wait-and-see attitude in terms of putting companies up for sale,” Holland said. But despite the short-term cool-down, he said, Astound will remain “very active” in the M&A market over time.

Editor’s Note: Astound Business Solutions (formerly Wave Business) is the title sponsor of the GeekWire Awards.

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