CLEC Update

Nathan and his team are have been making very good progress on our CLEC deployment. As a certified public utility in California, and a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC), Sonic.net and is working toward deployment of equipment to serve next generation broadband products.

These products include traditional services such as 1.5Mbps T1, plus advanced services like ADSL2+ and VDSL2. We’ve even got some exciting new products based upon E-SHDSL (we pronounce it “E-Schnitzel” here around the office) that allow delivery of over 5Mbps symmetric (down and upstream) per pair at reasonably short distances. This allows delivery of Internet at 10Mbps (Ethernet speed) on as few as two pairs for business locations. Up to eight pairs can be bonded to deliver T3 speed (45Mbps). ADSL2+ can in theory provide up to 24Mbps downstream on just one pair – compare to today’s ADSL, at only 8Mbps theoretical maximum.

The last six months have seen some important milestones, and it’s very exciting to see the tangible progress.

As a CLEC, colocation in the telco central office (the ugly building in the middle of every town) allows for interconnection between copper to you, and the equipment that serves these new access technologies on that copper. We received access to our first colocation CO in late December. After nearly two years of paperwork, it was great to finally walk into the physical outcome – the somewhat dated interior of a building that was constructed to withstand a nuclear blast not too far away.

Our colocation cage space is just what it sounds like – a cage. It’s a walled off space built from a sort of telco industrial fencing material. While we’re not allowed to take photographs in a central office, here’s a snapshot of a typical type of cage that’s representative:

Colocation Cage

I can’t overstate the importance of this CLEC initiative for Sonic.net. Our ability to deliver innovative high speed products is critical to our future, and I’m very happy to see it coming along.

The next few weeks will see DSLAM equipment build out into the colocation space. This space is empty, so this means installation of ironwork – racks to hold the equipment – plus DSLAMs and other electronic equipment.

Even installation of the racks is a bit complex – we had to have staff attend training on “how to drill a hole”, and there’s a even special sized hammer drill bit that was rather tough to obtain. The training is mandatory for us to do our own construction in the central office – Santa Rosa’s main CO’s concrete flooring is “likely to contain asbestos”. No fooling. So, drilling a hole really is a bit complex, involving shaving cream (you guessed it – to capture the concrete powder and “likely asbestos”), some napkins (to capture the shaving cream), and a number of zip-lock baggies. The baggies are then tagged with our training certification data, and disposed of as hazardous waste.

Once we get the racks in, the DSLAMs and other equipment will be placed. Finally, we begin testing on copper loops to various locations around Santa Rosa. I will make postings about our progress from time to time.