Tag: DSL

Drilling Through the Caps

With news about AT&T’s announcement last week that they will be imposing caps on their ADSL and U-Verse VDSL customers, we have received a lot of inquiries about whether or not this will affect Sonic.net customers, and whether we plan to follow the lead of Comcast and AT&T. We are also being asked why AT&T is imposing caps, and about the $10 per 50GB for overage charges. Is it congestion, pricing fairness, or just more revenue?

To be clear, Sonic.net has no plans to impose usage caps on our customers.

Our DSL customers are in two categories: those served on the AT&T ADSL1 DSLAMs via our wholesale line sharing relationship with AT&T, and those on our own equipment which serves the Fusion ADSL2+ Broadband & Phone platform. On our own Fusion network, we have absolute control over policies such as usage caps or bandwidth management.

For our customers on the AT&T wholesale network, we have a contractual relationship with AT&T to deliver broadband service to our mutual customers. I do not expect any near term changes to the policies and terms of that relationship.

In Canada, incumbent telephone companies such as Bell Canada have been working to lobby for legislation that would require all ISPs to charge for usage, including those who obtain wholesale access from Bell Canada. This usage based billing (UBB) legislation has become a political hot potato, with sites like stopusagebasedbilling.com and stopthecap.com carrying the fight.

As for the reasons for the push for usage based billing, Bell Canada CEO George Cope has said, “…as we see a growth in video usage on the internet, making sure we’re monetizing that for our shareholders through the bandwidth usage charges”.

DSLReports.com concludes that the caps that Comcast imposes and which AT&T is launching are “solely designed to cash in on Internet video – while protecting TV revenues.”

This is okay, it is clear, and it is reasonable that Comcast and AT&T should push customers toward their television services.

But here at Sonic.net, we have a different business model. If you like it, be sure to check for Fusion availability in your area.

Next generation product pricing

Fusion Bundle Logo Concept

Fusion Bundle Logo Concept

As discussed previously, we have been working for some time toward the launch of new next generation products. As we get nearer deployment, some of the details are firming up.

First, bundling. This is a hot topic – some customers really like bundles, and some really do not. We believe in providing as many options as we can, so our next generation products will be available both with and without other services bundled. Of note, you do NOT need to have a voice telephone service for these products, and in fact at this point our initial offering does not include voice. The voice offering is likely to arrive sometime late this year.

Second, a name. Our current tentative name for the family of products is “Fusion”. Maybe that’s “Sonic.net Fusion Broadband Internet”, or “Fusion: Next Generation Products”, etc – it’s a working concept at this point. The Fusion concept encompasses all of the products that will be available. If we stick with this name, the product is likely to have an atom logo, where each electron in orbit represents an additional bundled product. Opt for broadband only, or add in voice, TV, or mobile. Each adds a ring to the orbit.

Finally and most important, pricing. Here are the initial launch products and prices. Note that these are standalone, delivered on a dedicated copper pair, so unlike today’s DSL, you don’t need to have a voice line and associated costs.

(Note, pricing updated and current as of 8/26/2009, reductions noted with strikethrough. -DJ)

Residential locations, dynamic IP:

  • 1.5Mbps/1Mbps $35/mo
  • 3Mbps/1Mbps $40/mo
  • 6Mbps/1Mbps $45/mo
  • 10 12Mbps/1Mbps $65/mo $50/mo
  • 18Mbps/1Mbps $80/mo $55/mo

Residential locations, 8 static IPs:

  • 1.5Mbps/1Mbps $55/mo
  • 3Mbps/1Mbps $60/mo
  • 6Mbps/1Mbps $70/mo
  • 10 12Mbps/1Mbps $90/mo $75/mo
  • 18Mbps/1Mbps $105/mo $80/mo

Business locations, dynamic IP:

  • 1.5Mbps/1Mbps $45/mo
  • 3Mbps/1Mbps $50/mo
  • 6Mbps/1Mbps $70/mo $60/mo
  • 10 12Mbps/1Mbps $90/mo $70/mo
  • 18Mbps/1Mbps $105/mo $80/mo

Business locations, 8 static IPs:

  • 1.5Mbps/1Mbps $55/mo
  • 3Mbps/1Mbps $60/mo
  • 6Mbps/1Mbps $80/mo $75/mo
  • 10 12Mbps/1Mbps $100/mo $85/mo
  • 18Mbps/1Mbps $115/mo $100/mo

Bundling offers the opportunity to drive costs downward – for example, adding voice service (when available) reduces the monthly cost of both products by a combined total of $20/mo. Adding television saves another $10/mo. At this time, bundle savings for adding mobile have not been set.

Product speeds are tiered based upon the capabilities of the loop itself. So for example, the max downstream speed of the 6/1Mbps product is between 4-6Mbps, the 10/1 between 7-10Mbps, 18/1, 11-18Mbps. Maximum speed is based upon the line’s electrical capability to carry ADSL2+ data. This rate of speed will be faster than legacy ADSL1 would be for the same CO based loop.

For customers near downtown Santa Rosa, these products will be available in just a couple weeks. About ten additional cities plus expanded Santa Rosa coverage will arrive in the coming months.

Oh, and yes, the free clip art atom that I’ve used here has one too many electrons in orbit. The max would be four. Broadband, voice, TV and mobile.

30Mbps to Tye’s house

Our team today turned up pair bonded ADSL2+ to Tye C’s place. Tye works in tech support, and happens to live a little over one mile of copper wire away from the Santa Rosa downtown central office. And tonight, Tye is rocking 30Mbps of downstream bandwidth on two simple copper pairs. Nice work guys!

The loops to the house are each running about 15Mbps sync. The maximum sync that ADSL2+ can deliver is 24Mbps. But like ADSL1, which can do 8Mbps, in the real world we expect a slightly lower level. In ADSL1, the maximum practical speed is generally 6Mbps for most locations, and for ADSL2+, I think we’ll be real happy if we see 20Mbps as the top end in the real world. The 15Mbps speed that Tye’s got is likely to be more common.

This makes bonding even more interesting. Every home has at least two “phone lines” – we can deliver voice lines on both of them (main home line, second line for home office or FAX perhaps), plus bonded IP at 2x the ADSL2+ sync. That means some serious bandwidth potential for our business and residential users.

I’ll caution that we haven’t yet designed product specifications and price points for residential users at this speed, but the technology does work. The business model is a separate question.

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.