So proud of the Sonic team

An open letter to the 423 members of the Sonic team:

As we close out a catastrophic week here in the North Bay, I wanted to gather my thoughts and share some of them as we go into our weekend.

First I wanted to comment about that coming weekend: our outside plant team has been working hard this week to build a new fiber optic cable route to our customers in the the Fountaingrove business park, where the fiber feed to the North on Old Redwood was destroyed by the fires.

We asked the OSP team to continue work on Saturday in hopes of completing the repairs on Monday or Tuesday of next week – but they volunteered to continue on and work through Sunday, to knock this out, to get those businesses and their employees back to normal work on Monday AM.

I am really touched by that dedication, and my thanks go out to every one of you on that team. Notable also is that this is Sonic’s first self-performed aerial construction. We are doing a rapid build of three miles of new optical plant on an emergency basis, with our own team. Amazing teamwork to see.

I also want to thank all of you for supporting each other in so many ways. I’m hearing from evacuated staff who are staying with their co-workers, I’m seeing kids here playing or watching movies together, and I’m hearing about staff providing clothes, supplies, and emotional support. And thank you also for those who have helped Jen as she has led our efforts to shelter staff and families here at the offices.

I’m also seeing our teams supporting our community and our customers, and I’m very proud when I see those efforts too. Staff have been cooking at local shelters. We loaned out Zander from our geo team to support Calfire’s GIS efforts. Our installers and NOC whipped up a VoIP phone system for the Volunteer center in a day, and then expanded it for them a couple days later. We are supporting businesses that are relocating with expedited fiber network delivery in our business parks. And all of these things have happened without my input or direction: staff and the teams have taken the initiative to assist the community and our customers in all of these ways. Thank you.

I knew all of you were amazing, before these fires. I saw it every day, in the small things, the praise from customers, the loyalty and dedication to our mission, and to our members, and to each other. But this week has really shown me even more clearly what wonderful people you all are. Thank you for that.

This community and members of our Sonic team will have real challenges in front of them in the coming months. Lets stick together and continue to support them. Some have lost their homes, some have parents or family or friends who have lost homes, and some have family who have lost their jobs because businesses have been destroyed.

This is an opportunity for us all, to continue to make a difference for those here at Sonic and those in our community who are only beginning their process of returning from the devastation of these fires. Together we can do it.

-Dane Jasper

 

Sonic tops EFF privacy scorecard

We put our members first, and that’s especially true when it comes to privacy.

As the industry leader on consumer privacy protection, we guard our customer’s data like no one else because we understand that your use of the Internet is private, and that we must ensure our members feel secure.

Recently the Electronic Frontier Foundation published their annual “Who Has Your Back?” report. It marks another year that Sonic has received a perfect rating, our fifth such achievement in the five years that Internet access providers have been ranked by the EFF. Each year we have been awarded a perfect score because we lead the way in industry best practices, refuse to sell our user’s data, and advocate for our customers and their privacy. For us, it’s not complicated: our members deserve an internet service provider who won’t share or sell their personal data.

Leading the way on privacy.

Since day one, our policies have always taken into account the best interests of our members and these policies are especially relevant now. California is currently considering legislation that would install statewide privacy rules after prior federal protections were repealed. This could mean setting a major precedent in terms of where the limits are when it comes to ISPs and the unique access they have to their users’ personal data.

So, what does this proposed legislation mean for Sonic and for our members?

California legislators will soon consider whether or not to enact new rules governing what internet service providers are allowed to do with customer data. These new laws would require:

  1. ISPs to obtain customer permission before using or selling their personal data, permissions that could also be revoked by the consumer at any time. This would give Internet users a real choice about their privacy.
  2. Prevent ISPs from offering incentives or discounts to customers if they opt out of choosing privacy protections, along with prohibiting ISPs from turning away those who choose to have their data protected. This would mean never having to choose between protecting your personal data and receiving service.

This is legislation that could set an enormous precedent in favor of privacy protections for consumers. It presents an opportunity to make a tangible, significant difference, and Sonic is in full support.

With the recent attacks on net neutrality and now your privacy, we want you to make your voice heard. You can write your local representatives and let them know that you are in favor of restoring broadband privacy rules that restrict your broadband provider’s ability to sell your data without your explicit consent. And we’ll do the same. Write a letter to your representative here.

But regardless of the outcome of this legislative effort, Sonic’s stance remains constant: we will never sell your personal data. We won’t change our minds or our protective policies, regardless of whether or not this legislation passes. Sonic has got your back, and that’s something you can count on.

 

Net Neutrality Day — now what?

On Wednesday, Sonic and thousands of supporters came together for a day of action to save the internet. The Sonic team was at the San Francisco Mission BART station Wednesday, educating the public about the importance of net neutrality. Keeping it fun, yes, those are tattoos! (the temporary kind). We also sent a call to action to our customers, posted on our website, submitted letters to Congress, and spoke with anyone that would listen about the importance of Net Neutrality.

In fact, I did a Reddit AMA to chat with users about the critical importance of fighting to keep current net neutrality regulation that keeps the internet open and equal for all in place. I also wrote a San Francisco Chronicle opinion article on the importance of net neutrality.

For more on the topic and its importance, here is a roundup of some of the recent coverage to get you up to speed:

The outpouring of support for Net Neutrality Day was nothing short of inspiring. Over 2 million comments, 5 million emails, and 125,000 calls were made to the FCC. You fought alongside Sonic and countless others for your internet freedom. You told the FCC and Congress that you deserve open and equal internet access.

But our fight is not over. On Monday, the FCC will stop accepting constituent feedback on Net Neutrality regulation. Until then, your continued support in sharing news stories, posting on social, and submitting your letters to Congress and the FCC is more important than ever, so if you haven’t commented yet, please do so today.

Thank you for joining Sonic as we continue to fight for your freedom on the internet. Share this with friends. Post on social media, or forward this message. We’ve only got until Monday to make our voices heard!

Privacy Matters

This week Congress overturned internet privacy rules that would have applied to carriers like Sonic, and this presents a good opportunity for us to reiterate our position on privacy.

Sonic has long supported privacy efforts which would protect the rights of our members, and has engaged in ongoing advocacy on this issue for many years. We disagree with industry members who have lobbied for the ability to monitor internet usage by consumers. The health of the internet ecosystem critically depends upon confidence by creators and consumers that their usage will not be monitored or sold.

As we have said before, we believe many of the issues related to carrier practices and policies are fundamentally a competitive market failure. This includes net neutrality and privacy, but also product design and pricing, usage caps, customer service and more. If consumers could choose from fifteen different internet service providers, the competitive market would reward the best policies, prices, reliability and practices.

Sonic and a few other competitive internet service providers aside, the US does not have an adequately competitive market. And until that is achieved, regulation of some carrier policies and practices is important.

The pending repeal of the broadband privacy rules provides an opportunity for Sonic to clarify our policies, and to call out some specific policy points:

  • Sonic never sells our member information or usage data, nor do we voluntarily provide government or law enforcement with access to any data about users for surveillance purposes.
  • Sonic minimizes data retention, keeping data from 0 – 14 days for dynamic IP addresses and other logs and commits to EFF’s privacy-friendly Do Not Track policy. We believe that user data should not be retained longer than necessary, and that users deserve to have a clear understanding of personal data held by service providers.
  • Sonic is also against the re-authorization of Section 702 (the law behind the PRISM and Upstream programs). Governments and other entities should not collect huge quantities of phone, email or other internet usage data directly from the physical infrastructure of any communications provider.

We have also updated further our policy document, adding new language regarding notification of customers when legal process is served under seal.

2016 Transparency Report

Protection of customer privacy is one of our core values at Sonic. We seek to provide as much transparency as possible regarding legal processes and customer privacy, so in furtherance of those efforts, we are releasing our sixth annual Transparency Report.

In 2016 we saw processed just one civil subpoenas, as compared with two in 2015, zero in 2014, one in 2013 compared with nine each in 2011 and 2012. Law enforcement subpoena activity increased compared to 2015, with 20 orders, but only 30% of these were provided responsive data. Note for those comparing year to year activity: Sonic’s membership is growing so it is not possible to make a direct comparison in volume from year to year.

As in years past, we can only publish the broad bracket related to National Security Letter (NSL) items, we are limited to a disclosure of a range rather than a specific quantity.

Internet and telephone service providers have a great responsibility both to protect their law-abiding customers and the public. We continually work to achieve both of these goals.

2015 Transparency Report

Protection of customer privacy is one of our core values at Sonic. We seek to provide as much transparency as possible regarding legal processes and customer privacy, so in furtherance of those efforts, we are releasing our fifth annual Transparency Report.

In 2015 we saw processed two civil subpoenas, as compared with zero in 2014, one in 2013 compared with nine each in 2011 and 2012. Law enforcement subpoena activity decreased compared to 2014. Note also that Sonic’s membership is growing so it is not possible to make a direct comparison between the years.

As in years past, we can only publish the broad bracket related to National Security Letter (NSL) items,  we are limited to a disclosure of a range rather than a specific quantity.

Internet and telephone service providers have a great responsibility both to protect their law-abiding customers and the public. We continually work to achieve both of these goals.

Dear Mr. President

President Obama talk about broadband speed

President Obama recently called out San Francisco for being America’s slowest-connected large city. And that’s ironic, because San Francisco is the cradle of so much technological innovation. Companies here are building amazing things, including some notable Sonic customers such as Maker Media.

But when they go home, San Francisco residents are worse served than consumers in much of the rest of the country. Indeed the US as a whole has some of the worst connectivity in the developed world.

Here is the chart that President Obama is pointing to above, and he’s calling out you, San Francisco:

Screen Shot Internet Download Speeds By City

Mr. President, we are changing that, right now. Sonic now provides Gigabit (1000Mbps) Fiber to the home service in San Francisco!

San Francisco, and indeed every city, deserves for its residents and businesses the fastest possible connections, without caps, tiered pricing, or crappy customer service. We can do better. Sonic’s continuing mission is to build and deliver a better Internet service. Whether it is crushing artificial data caps and tiers, fair policies that protect our lawful customers, or just a simple, all-inclusive price, we’ve got a better way.

In San Francisco specifically, the race is on now, and Sonic has the lead. As the first to deliver consumer-priced Gigabit Fiber to the home in San Francisco, we are thrilled to see our customers posting up awesome speeds, and telling us how thrilled they are with their new Sonic Fiber service.

So with all of this in mind, Mr. President, I want to assure you that the city of San Francisco, cradle of so much innovation, is well on its way to getting the widely available Gigabit Fiber connectivity it deserves. (And, it’s time to update your chart!)

And for the people of San Francisco, to help bring Gigabit Fiber to every home, I have just two requests: Please join Sonic as a member, and even if we are not yet offering Fiber in your area, please click here to share what we are doing. Together, we can fix Internet access in America.

Sonic Fusion Gigabit Fiber Now Available in San Francisco

Underground conduit buildAfter years of planning and construction, I am happy to announce that Sonic has launched our Gigabit Fiber service in San Francisco.

Sonic’s Fusion Fiber service delivers Internet access at one Gigabit per second, and is currently available for ordering or pre-ordering in the Sunset and Richmond Districts in San Francisco. Residents can visit our Gigabit page to learn more and check for available Sonic services.

Sonic’s Fusion service is $40 per month. In addition to broadband at up Gigabit speed, Fusion also includes home phone service with nationwide calling, plus unlimited international calling to fixed lines in sixty six countries.

Gigabit Fiber Internet access delivers speed of up to 1000 Mbps to the devices in your home. This is some of the fastest residential Internet available in the United States, with performance roughly 100 times faster than the average Internet connection in the United States today.

Sonic’s Fusion service also includes home phone service with unlimited nationwide calling, plus now unlimited global calling to fixed line numbers in 66 countries and US territories, including popular destinations such as Mexico and India.

Sonic has previously delivered Gigabit Fiber in Brentwood and Sebastopol, plus business parks in Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Windsor. Sonic is proud to be the largest Gigabit Fiber Internet provider in the Bay Area, and now, San Francisco’s first Gigabit Fiber Internet provider.

Please tell a friend!

Go, Monopoly! Go! Go!

Screenshot 2015-11-17 17.02.48

I’m flying across the US today, enjoying in-flight Internet access along the way. Internet access in the sky changes the equation for travellers, particularly for business users, allowing them to stay in touch and productive, despite zipping along at 550mph.

While I’m feeling a bit spoiled by this handy access (and a bit disloyal to GoGo as I post this), the in-flight monopoly reminds me of some of America’s issues with terrestrial Internet access. Up here in the sky, I’ve got one choice, just as most Americans have just one choice for fast Internet access in their homes.

And just as consumers on the ground do by switching providers frequently, or calling for a better price every year, I’ve got to game the billing system in order to get a fair price. In my case, by connecting via VPN in order to buy a flight pass using the Sonic IP, yielding a much lower price than is offered onboard. (Is charging me more once I’m on the plane fair? Maybe @GoGo will respond with a comment below. Tip: If you forget to pre-purchase before your flight and are feeling gouged, buy 30 minutes of access, then use the Sonic VPN to connect to gogoair.com and buy more time or a segment pass at a lower cost than is offered onboard.)

At Sonic, our goal is to deliver more and more value for our members, at a fair and simple price. While we do from time to time run specials (like a month free, or a free Roku, or a monthly discount, or $5 off with a television bundle, etc) for new members, we don’t do the routine “call the cable company every year to threaten to cancel, fight, renew/re-negotiate” with our customers. No matter how you come in, you end up in the same place in the long run. That’s fair.

Why? Because we’ve got a mission: fixing the state of Internet access in America.

We want to partner with our members in that mission, and part of that is the financial support which you provide every month by being a member. Every dollar supports building a better product for you, our Sonic members.

Fixing the Internet will take a huge movement, which is why we work so hard to recruit new members to our mission. That’s is why we love seeing our members referring their friends, family, and workplace to Sonic. Thank you very much for spreading the word about our mission.

Together we can build a new Internet access model for America, beyond just one choice, beyond cable. One without artificial tiers and usage caps, with $40 gigabit fiber, while protecting the privacy of our lawful customers. It’s going to take time, and a lot of money. But it is possible, and I look forward to doing it, with the support of our members.

FCC validates Sonic robocall blocking efforts

Last year Sonic partnered with the award-winning Nomorobo robocall blocking solution for our Fusion landline phone service. Last Friday, the FCC validated that choice, affirming in a 3 to 2 vote a carrier’s right to offer robocall blocking to its customers.

The FCC’s Chairman, Tom Wheeler, wroteFor the first time, we clarify that there is no legal reason carriers shouldn’t offer their customers popular robocall-blocking solutions, so that consumers can use market-based approaches to stop unwanted calls.

Sonic was the first US telecommunications carrier to integrate and deploy Nomorobo, and we are pleased that the FCC and FTC have supported our consumer-friendly policies on annoying and often fraudulent robocalling. Until this decision last week, it was possible that our decision to offer this free feature would be challenged, so we appreciate the FCC’s decision, and we thank the commissioners for their action on this issue.

Sonic’s Nomorobo blocking feature has blocked over five million spam calls so far, saving huge amounts of time and frustration for our members. The Nomorobo feature is free for Sonic members, who can enable or disable it via our Member Tools.

To learn more about robocalls, see Federal Trade Commission’s Robocalls page, which includes a thorough infographic on how robocalls work. Sonic’s integrated Nomorobo solution was a winner of the FTC’s 2013 Robocall Challenge.

To learn more about Sonic’s Nomorobo feature, see the brief video here: