Month: December 2010 Selected by Google to Operate Stanford Fiber Network

SANTA ROSA, CA – December 13th, 2010 today announced it has been selected to operate and support the trial fiber-to-the-home network Google is building at Stanford University. This experimental project will test new fiber construction and operation methods, while delivering full gigabit speeds to approximately 850 faculty and staff owned homes on campus. will manage operation of the network, provide customer service and support and perform on-site installation and repair. is Northern California’s leading independent Internet service provider.

The Stanford trial network is completely separate from the community selection process for Google’s Fiber for Communities project, which is still ongoing. Google’s ultimate goal is to build a fiber-to-the-home network that reaches at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people, and it plans to announce its selected community or communities by the end of the year. currently operates California’s largest open Internet access network, offering services today primarily via next-generation copper. The Santa Rosa-based company previously announced its own plans to deliver a fiber-to-the-home network in Sebastopol, Calif., and looks forward to working with Google on the innovative gigabit network being planned for the Stanford community.’s open network provides services to seventy other Internet service providers delivering broadband services across a thirteen state territory.

Construction of the Stanford fiber network will begin in early 2011.

“ is an innovative ISP that brings top notch experience to the Google Fiber for Communities project,” said James Kelly, Google Fiber for Communities product manager. “Their open access experience and well regarded customer service team will play a key role as we kick off our beta network at Stanford.”

We are very excited to have the opportunity to work with Google on this project,” said Dane Jasper, CEO & Co-Founder of “It’s a great fit for our existing capabilities, and will help us develop new skills as we move our own network toward fiber.

About Inc., founded in 1994, provides broadband access to consumers and wholesale partners in a thirteen state region.’s leading product is “Fusion”, which combines unlimited broadband and unlimited local and long distance home telephone service. adopted a European pricing model for “Fusion,” forgoing the common practice of limiting a customer’s Internet speed based on pricing tiers. For $39.95, every Fusion customer gets the maximum Internet speed possible at their location — up to 20Mbps — plus a traditional phone line with unlimited U.S. calling. For more information, visit

About Google Inc.

Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google’s targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit


Dane Jasper

Dan Martin

Fusion Now Includes Voicemail

The team at is working hard to add more features to Fusion Broadband + Phone. Our next big service launch is voicemail for Fusion customers.

Our default configuration leaves voicemail off, because you may have an on-site answering system and we don’t want to cause unexpected changes. To turn on the voicemail feature and edit voicemail settings, visit our member tool here.

Voicemail can be accessed by phone by dialing *99 from your Fusion line, via your browser on the web, and in your email using IMAP in the “voicemail” folder in your email box.

You can also opt to have your messages forwarded via email to an email address of your choice, but this results in having to listen to and delete messages in two locations, because the messages are also retained in your unified inbox here. Instead, I would suggest using notification and the IMAP folder if you prefer to listen to and manage messages via email.

Voicemail notification options include SMS or Twitter (you’ll need to follow fusion_vm.) With notifications, we will let you know right away if you receive a voice message on your Fusion line.

Fusion Broadband + Phone Price Drops Again

We just dropped the price of our Fusion Broadband + Phone service for residential customers! Previously $50.00, Fusion Broadband + Phone is now priced at just $39.95!

This is an unbeatable deal for Broadband at up to 20Mbps plus land line voice with unlimited nationwide calling. If you’re not already a Fusion Broadband + Phone customer, you can check for service availability here.

Two line residential Fusion (up to 40Mbps and two phone lines) has also dropped, from $100.00 to $79.95. has reduced Fusion prices twice before, opposing the trend of annual price increases by other carriers.

Existing customers will automatically see the new rate reflected in their bill shortly. We appreciate your selection of Fusion at the $50.00 rate, and I know you’ll like it even more at $39.95.

This is part of our commitment to continue to improve our flagship Fusion service. We would certainly appreciate it very much if you’d tell your friends (online and offline), neighbors, blog readers, Yelp/DSLReports reviews, etc. Your positive endorsement is the best way for us to grow. As you can see, we’re passing along cost savings as rate reductions to you!

This new rate applies to Fusion Broadband + Phone. If you have a Fusion “Standalone” service that doesn’t have voice, you can retain that product at your current rate. If you would like to take advantage of the new rate, you will need to activate voice. If you’d like to do this, please call us now to start the process. You can reach our customer service group at 707-547-3400.

We have decided not to add voice automatically for all customers for a number of reasons. First, we can port a number from another carrier for you, or let you choose a new telephone number, and we would like you to make this choice. Second, there are taxes and fees associated with voice, and we’d like to assure you understand them. Estimated voice tax and fee information is available, listed by city. Third, Fusion Broadband + Phone requires a credit, debit or pre-paid debit card for payment, so we need to collect that information if we do not already have it. Finally, and most important, we must validate that your physical address is accepted by the 911 system when we activate voice.

I’m very happy to see the customer excitement about our Fusion product. I really appreciate everyone’s positive feedback and the great reception we have had for the service. Thank you! Please spread the word.

Review: Boxee is the power tool

In my reviews of OTT solutions, I would be remiss if I didn’t write about the much anticipated Boxee Box.

Boxee has been available as free software for a laptop or home theater PC for quite some time, but I’ve avoided it because I prefer a small box, a turnkey appliance. And while you could load the Boxee software on an old Apple TV or even an XBox, I just don’t have the time to hack on projects like this anymore.

The Boxee “Box” from D-Link is the first hardware solution that brings this popular software into a consumer electronics device that you can easily add to your electronics stack. Well, perhaps not easily — Boxee has gotten creative about the form factor of the device, and have brought us an annoyingly shaped pyramid. Kudos for cute, but it’s would be nice if it were rectangular.

On initial startup, the Boxee was virtually immediately rejected by my spouse due to it’s somewhat complex interface. It is not a device to put in your mom’s x-mas stocking. (Buy her a Roku.) But with that complexity comes power. The Boxee is an Internet video hacker’s tool, with local file sharing and playback of virtually any file format I’ve tried. Boxee is also engaged in a running battle with Hulu and other content sites, currently linking users to Hulu shows via Fancast. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t work, but points for trying.

The application/channel set is still not mature on the Boxee. It includes apps for playback of MLB.TV and NHL, for example, but it’s missing key sources like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon. Boxee says that these are coming “by the end of the year“. The Roku includes all of these today.

The Boxee is the only OTT box that I’ve tested which has a really good remote. It’s RF instead of IR, which is great if your equipment is in a cabinet. With this ugly little fluorescent accented pyramid, I certainly want to hide it away. The remote also include a QWERTY keyboard on the back, which is great when searching for shows or typing in URLs of online content.

If you are a geek and want the most powerful and flexible OTT video option available, the $199 Boxee is your choice. You probably already have five other devices in your home that play Netflix, so you won’t miss that near-term capability on Boxee.

Review: Roku is the perfect streamer

Continuing my reviews of “over the top” (OTT) solutions, the Roku deserves a special place in the list of options.

Roku started out with music streaming devices, then moved on to video a couple years ago. Their equipment and software is mature and feature rich, showing the polish of consistent updates. It’s interface is smooth and simple, making it easy to use for any member of the household.

Unlike the Sezmi, the Roku is OTT content only, and unlike the Boxee, it’s isn’t for playing local media like your photos or videos you download to your PC.

What the Roku does best is stream high quality content like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, MLB.TV, NHL and many more. Some are free, but Roku’s strength is that it has the best array of commercial streams of any player that I have tried.

Roku also offers the most mature interface for Netflix. If you are a Netflix subscriber, Roku offers the best playback experience, and includes capabilities like search, queue management and browsing. Fast forward & rewind are also much better on the Roku than other Netflix playback devices.

These are important points — Netflix is currently the dominant OTT content provider, so a great Netflix interface is a big win. Many households have more than one device today that play Netflix today, but because the Roku does it so well, this has made it a favorite in our home.

For fans of sports like baseball, hockey and UFC, the Roku may also be a fit because of it’s available subscription sports services. They are not inexpensive (MLB.TV is $100 for the season), but they can provide more sports content (every baseball game, every hockey game) than pay TV options today. Notably, NFL is missing – NFL doesn’t do OTT, instead NFL is the domain of DirecTV, which we’ll happily sell you if you do decide that you want a traditional pay TV option.

The other great selling point of the Roku is price: it’s $60 (HD 720p), $80 (HD 1080p for full HD resolution) or $100 (w/dual band 802.11n and a few other less used features. Just buy the $80 version.)

If you subscribe to Netflix today and don’t already have one of the many Netflix playback devices, or if you want more capabilities like Hulu Plus, MLB, etc, give the Roku a look. It’s a low cost way to get started with a simple and high quality OTT experience.

Review: Sezmi delivers OTA plus OTT

Customers are doing more than ever with their fast Fusion service, with video being a primary application.

I’ve written previously about OTT, or “over the top”, which is the delivery of video entertainment via, or over the top of, an Internet connection.  More and more consumers and adding over the top solutions to their living room, or simply replacing pay TV with a box that delivers content OTT.

I’ve been testing a number of OTT solutions, and this review of the Sezmi OTA+OTT solution is the first of a couple articles to come on this topic. (Disclaimer: I mentioned Sezmi in passing on Twitter a couple months ago, and won a free unit. I purchased a Roku and Boxee, and will be posting reviews of each here shortly.)

The part many of us miss after “cutting the cord” on pay TV is local real time TV channels. On demand content is great, but there is a ton of content on the local channels, plus news and sports that you can’t easily duplicate “over the top”.

Sezmi brings these back, using an old technology: OTA, or “off the air” – meaning an antenna. This arcane antenna thing is like magic – it plucks television signals out of the air! It’s an amazing technology that my entire generation has simply forgotten ever existed.

That box you see looming in the background in this image is the Sezmi phased array digital TV antenna. Sezmi elegantly merges off the air local digital TV signals with a well equipped digital video recorder, and stirs in a mix of OTT on-demand content too.

This is the best of both worlds in many ways, and it’s a tidy solution. You could cobble together something similar: a good quality HD antenna, plus a TiVo, plus perhaps a Samsung or Sony TV that connects to YouTube. But building that configuration wouldn’t be easy, and the TiVo costs $19.99/mo, and requires a two year commitment (or, $299 for a larger unit, $19.99/mo for a minimum of one year.)  Either way, it’s not a complete solution (no included antenna, and no OTT), and it’s expensive.

Sezmi includes a huge 1TB video recorder and a nice looking bookshelf OTA antenna, designed to look like a speaker, wrapped in black cloth.  It delivers on-demand OTT content (much of it free), YouTube, movie rentals and more.  To make it easy to use, Sezmi includes an interface that gives each member of the household a button on the remote that leads to their own view of their entertainment. It learns what each person likes to watch, then Sezmi records content based upon your tastes.

Sezmi is cheaper than a TiVo, now $149 for the hardware, and the service which draws it all together is $4.99/mo. (Customers in LA can opt to add a small stack of cable channels, delivered over the Internet, for $15 additional.)

Sezmi isn’t perfect – it had some trouble during setup recognizing the IP it had obtained from my DHCP server.  (I spent ten minutes troubleshooting before I worked out that a reboot fixed; duh.) Sezmi also doesn’t play Netflix or Hulu Plus at this time.  It would be nice to see these integrated into their all-in-one interface. If cable channels like ESPN, TBS, TNT, CNN and Discovery are critical for you, an all OTT/OTA solution probably won’t have all of the content you want. (If you want all this, you aren’t a candidate for “cutting the cord”, you need pay TV. If that’s you, we’ll be happy to help you get set up with DirecTV.)

For Sezmi to work, you need to be in a location where you can receive an off the air signal with enough channels that it is worthwhile.  Here in Santa Rosa, Sezmi only picks up one channel, KRCB/PBS, and as a result, it isn’t much use.  But for customers in the Bay Area, it’s far better. All the major networks like ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox are all broadcast from Sutro Tower in San Francisco, and can be received in a broad area. Sezmi’s website will help you determine which channels you can receive at your address.

If you live in the Bay Area, and if broadcast network content is as important as OTT, the Sezmi is an elegant and cost effective solution that could help keep your entertainment costs in check. Pair it up with Fusion for a great broadband+phone+TV solution.