Category: News

Post-fire Update

It has been more than three weeks since the fires started in the North Bay area, and while the fires are extinguished, the difficult process of recovery has only just begun. California’s largest wildfire has badly hurt our hometown, with Santa Rosa losing many lives, and thousands of homes. Residents throughout the effected North Bay need our help as the long recovery begins.

Before I get into those details, I want to cite the consistency, reliability and compassion of the Sonic team here. I have seen a group of people who have been challenged, who have risen to that challenge, supporting each other and our community throughout this disaster. I wrote an open letter to the team, which I encourage you to read, here.

As for Sonic’s network and services, we continued to provide both broadband and telephone services to our communities throughout this crisis, with no widespread outages. The engineering team here has built a solid network and a reliable service. Some news coverage on this can be found here: North Bay internet service provider quickly rebuilds

This disaster has reinforced for me a number a points about household safety and the importance of reliable utility services, and I’ve got a few suggestions and tips for you to consider, which I will include below.

But first, many in this community are now struggling financially, and could use support in this very difficult time. To have lost everything they owned along with their housing is a massive blow for the families in our community. To assist, a local recovery fund has been set up, and if you are able I would encourage you to donate to the fund. All money raised will go directly to those with real needs as a result of this disaster. You can donate now at:

Now, I have a suggestion for your household, no matter where you are located. This disaster highlighted the importance of wireline home telephone service. Many Sonic customers received robocalls which were their only alert to evacuate. Make sure you have the best chance of having reliable telephone service in a crisis by equipping yourself well in advance. It’s easy, and inexpensive, and it could save your life.

To start with, every home should have a wired telephone, because cordless phone systems require power. An inexpensive wired phone can be purchased for about $15, see Amazon here for suggestions. Consider placing it on your bedside table, and don’t be tempted to disable the ringer.

For those with Sonic’s FTTN or Fiber service, backup power is required for voice service during a power outage. Fusion FTTN customers can use a single battery backup unit to power three critical items: the Internet router, the telephone adaptor, and your cordless phone base station. All three of these will generally be located in the same spot, so this is an easy way to keep both your internet and voice telephone service working for hours during a power outage. For those with Sonic Fiber, a battery backup is also required for service during a power outage. If you did not have a battery backup installed during your fiber setup, I would recommend obtaining one.

For both of these applications, consider a small battery backup such as the Back-UPS Connect.

If you have any questions about voice functionality during a power outage, please reply and let us know by writing to to support for assistance.

Thank you for your support of our company and our community as we recover from this disaster.

-Dane Jasper


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


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!

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 Expands Gigabit Fiber for Businesses

Sonic has completed Gigabit Fiber Internet construction in the business park network at the Sonoma County Airport, and last week began to activate new Gigabit business customers.

The new network spans nine miles, passes hundreds of businesses, lighting over 200 buildings. Some of these locations only had T1 (1.5Mbps) services available prior to the build-out of Sonic Gigabit Fiber Internet.

This is Sonic’s second completed business park fiber build-out, after the Corporate Center park in Southwest Santa Rosa which was completed last year. Next up, construction is underway to serve businesses in Petaluma off North McDowell and the Redwood business park.

The business Gigabit Fiber Internet product offers Gigabit (1000Mbps) Internet access plus Hosted PBX to the desktop; a complete business communications suite. Pricing is $40 per employee or desk per month for Gigabit Internet access, cloud phone service and unlimited nationwide calling. Custom solutions are also available including building interconnection for campus WANs, SIP trunking, PRI and POTS.

Business fiber services are part of Sonic’s overall fiber initiatives, and support the expansion of network capacity and backbone throughout our regional footprint.

Here are a few photos related to the Airport project: Traffic Leaps on Netflix “Arrested” Release

Netflix "Arrested Development" release bumps Sunday/Monday Internet traffic by roughly 40% over normal

Netflix “Arrested Development” release helped bump Sunday/Monday Internet traffic 40%

Netflix’s release of Arrested Development appears to be enjoying some strong uptake. Typically we see normal or slightly reduced Internet traffic on a holiday weekend, but the surge in broadband use on Sunday and Monday was substantial, an almost 40% bump in overall usage.

Compare Saturday the 25th with Sunday the 26th, after the Arrested release. And, strong demand continued Monday (binge viewing?), compare Monday the 27th on the right to the left-most sample, Monday the 20th.

While the reviews of Arrested Development have been mixed, its success certainly could be measured here on our network.

Sweet Sixteen

Sweets from Sift for

Yesterday we celebrated’s sixteenth birthday. Founded in 1994 as “Sonoma Interconnect”, the company has seen a lot of change.

From a eight dialup lines connected to a couple Linux boxes, to a network spanning the state. From a few early adopter customers, to over fifty thousand end-users, including 90 Wholesale ISP partners.

The best part is that we have grown from two founders to a dynamic and intelligent team of one hundred really nice people.

Thank you.

New UPS project update

We are in the process of building a third massive UPS for our datacenter in Santa Rosa, and a number of big parts have recently arrived. This project has been underway for over a year now, and is a really large undertaking.

The new custom engineered breaker panel board arrived this week, and we now have most of the components on site. Construction has begun on the physical mounting of the equipment in our power room. We are excited about the new power delivery capacity that this project will provide, allowing for over double our current power load.

If you’re interested in seeing the images in the gallery below, you can click for a medium sized version, then click on the medium one for full size.

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Want better Internet? Vote Obama.

Fruitless visit to the FCC

Fuitless visit to the FCC

For the past eight years, I have seen a movement away from critical open access, and toward a monopolized Internet. It’s time for change.

In 1996, during the end of Clinton’s first term, congress passed the 1996 Telecom Act, opening voice and data communications to competition. This historic event ushered in early innovators such as Covad Communications, one of the first competitive carriers, and one of the first telecom companies to offer DSL service. Cable, telecom, and ISPs all engaged in years of competition and innovation, resulting in the relatively widespread availability of broadband access and services we see today.

But for the last four years, the FCC has subscribed to a different mandate, and there has been a huge roll-back. It’s a philosophy called the “multi-modal competition model”, and the basic premise is that less competition is good. While it makes little sense, that philosophy has informed key decisions by the FCC that affect the quality, price and innovation of Internet access that consumers can purchase today.

The multi-modal concept simply says that “One choice of Cable Internet versus one choice of DSL Internet is enough competition”, and that eliminating the common carriage wholesale requirements will free these two giants to make investments and grow availability. In other words, if you can get Internet in any form from just two providers, the market will probably take care of itself. There was some thought that wireless and powerline based Internet would also be in the mix, but neither of these have been relevant. So, what we’re left with is a duopoly. Ever seen vibrant innovation or really competitive pricing in a duopoly?

Under this multi-model concept, the FCC first decided that Cable companies would be free from the requirement that telecom carriers had to wholesale services to ISPs. Then, when telecom carriers appropriately pointed out the inequity in that, they eliminated the requirement of them too. This leaves ISPs without the ability to sell services to customers, and hands the entire ISP business to the Cable and Telco firms.

The Telecom Act is intact, but barriers to entry are very high. This takes the typical ISP who buys wholesale services out of the picture, leaving behind only regulated competitive carriers. ( has formed a telco carrier for this reason in order to remain a going concern.)

I visited the FCC myself to speak to staff about these issues. It was clear that the democratic minority appointees to the FCC understood the need for competition, but that the issue was being decided by the administration. I think it’s time for a change to that administration.

McCain’s close ties to large telecom firms promise four more years of this broken non-competitive concept at the FCC, and I believe that’s inherently bad for consumers.

Obama on the other hand has addressed the issue head on, and has a stated goal of open access. This includes honoring the principals of network neutrality, and hopefully, vibrant competition again instead of simply giving the Internet as a whole to the monopoly Cable and Telco.

For more on the history of our country’s march backward on broadband competition, see:
FCC v. Brand X
FCC forbearance on Fiber wholesale
FCC forbearance on DSL and Broadband wholesale

Satellite Broadband: Demo it here!

Nearly 4,000 of our current customers cannot obtain terrestrial DSL service today. Unfortunately, the prospects for many of these locations are not good for wired access due to very, very long wire distances.

For these rural homes, we introduced satellite Internet access at the beginning of this year. Today we have have nearly 200 customers online with broadband access via a small satellite dish. Satellite access is also available for business locations, and works well for multiple users.

Satellite access is cost effective and fast – far, far better than dialup. For locations which are rural, and where wired broadband is not available in any form (DSL or cable), it’s a wonderful solution.

That said, one of the most common requests we’ve heard from potential customers is “show me!”

That’s a very reasonable request, and we’ve now set up a demo station at our office here in Santa Rosa so prospective customers can take satellite broadband access for a test drive!

For web browsing, email with big attachments (photos and such), and streaming video and audio such as YouTube, satellite access is wonderful. It makes using the Internet far more fun and productive.

It is important to understand the limitations of satellite. Satellite access is not as fast as wired access, and it won’t work for some applications such as Voice over IP (VOIP), video conferencing and gaming.

Satellite access also has reasonable download and upload limits, a configuration called the “Fair Access Policy” (FAP). This is designed to keep one user from using up too much capacity on the satellite. The FAP limits are large – but you can’t download movies, for example, without hitting the limits. (That’s what satellite TV and on-demand are for!)

If you’ve been thinking of switching from dialup to satellite, please stop by our office and give it a try! If you’ve been stuck on dialup, you will really enjoy it.

Our lobby is open from 8am to 5pm weekdays, and we’re at 2260 Apollo Way in Santa Rosa (map).

P.S.: Remember, if you’ve got a “modem line”, an extra phone line for your PC modem, you’ll no longer need this with satellite, and this can really help offset the monthly cost of satellite access. No phone line is required!