Tag: Fiber

Sonic Meets Ongoing Demand for Affordable, High Speed Internet

Chronicle: "This is Sonic's biggest fiber expansion yet."

We’ve talked about 2019 being the year of fiber expansion, and Sonic has kicked it off with its biggest fiber rollout to date. In addition to our growing reach in San Francisco and the East Bay, our high speed Gigabit Fiber service will soon be available in the Peninsula for the first time ever! I’m also really excited about our first big fiber to the home project in the North Bay, in Petaluma.

The expansion will reach 19 new Bay Area cities and neighborhoods including Burlingame, San Mateo, Hillsborough, South San Francisco and portions of Cow Hollow, parts of Pacific Heights, Lower Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Chinatown, North Beach, San Carlos, Belmont, San Bruno, Millbrae, Redwood City, North Fair Oaks, Emerald Hills and Petaluma. See the Chronicle today for more details.

Current Sonic Fusion customers in these areas will receive an early installation invitation automatically, so just keep an eye on your email for updates as construction progresses.

For those of you who are not yet Sonic members, fiber pre-orders for these new locations are now available on the Sonic website. You will get your installation invitation shortly after our current members. Installations will begin this spring. So please, tell a neighbor what we’re up to!

Sonic technician Tom Sherrill works on securing the cable to the utility wires through branches as he installs fiber optic cable in Berkeley.
Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

Our massive expansion shows the demand in the Bay Area for affordable, very high-speed internet service and our ongoing determination to bring it to you. Together, we can fix what’s broken with internet access in America.

As interest in Cable continues to decline and streaming services gain more traction, having high-speed, reliable internet is no longer a luxury. It’s a must-have. For those looking to escape cable’s monopoly, Sonic provides a fast and affordable alternative that can power everything from streaming entertainment services to laptops and tablets to smart home devices. We intend to continue keeping up with evolving technologies and household broadband and WiFi needs, and by kicking off 2019 with our broadest fiber expansion yet, we’re doing just that.

This year not only marks our biggest expansion ever–it’s also the year of Sonic’s 25th anniversary. Since 1994, we have been committed to supplying our shared local communities with fast, affordable connectivity.  We look forward to many more years of continuing the momentum toward our ultimate goal of building a better, faster and more affordable internet in the Bay Area and far beyond.


San Francisco Cabinets

The San Francisco Business Times reports that a San Francisco judge has rejected a challenge to AT&T’s planned cabinet deployment, which will soon deliver AT&T’s U-verse broadband and television services.

I’ve written in the past in support of the infrastructure necessary for broadband service delivery, and I am heartened by this ruling that the cabinets are not subject to environmental review.

That said, cabinets can be a magnet for graffiti, and service providers should minimize their cabinet footprint while monitoring for incidents of graffiti. Cleanup must be swift when damage does occur.

Sonic.net’s own plan to deliver Gigabit Fiber-to-the-home in San Francisco is moving along, with a number of regulatory and permitting hurdles now behind us. While this project would mean around 188 additional cabinets in San Francisco, this is a lesser number than is needed for the slower copper-delivered U-verse service, so it is a lower impact project.

We are sensitive to the concerns of San Francisco residents, and will seek to minimize the visual and obstructive impact of our planned cabinet deployments. Cabinets will be monitored for graffiti, and we will establish a graffiti reporting hotline for reporting. Any graffiti found will be removed within one weekday.

We will also deliver the best possible service: Fiber-to-the-home, at full Gigabit speeds.

Improving California’s High Speed Infrastructure: Bullet Trains or Gigabits

The state’s leadership today approved the most expensive infrastructure project ever undertaken in California, a high-speed rail project that will connect San Francisco and Sacramento with Los Angeles. The cost: $68,000,000,000.

Generally speaking, rail in the US is useless for public transportation, so I’m sure this will be a wonderful resource for those who find occasion to use it. But, it is expensive, and even proponents of high speed rail have said that the plan has some significant flaws. It certainly benefits the population centers more than the rural areas it doesn’t reach or just passes through. And, it had a budget estimate that rose to near $100B dollars before being penciled back down to it’s current sixty eight billion.

Being in a different sort of high-speed business, I wondered: what would sixty eight billion buy if we decided to invest in glass fiber instead of steel rails? Could you “visit” LA at the speed of light instead, if we had chosen to spend this amount of money differently?

Fiber infrastructure also isn’t cheap: we have found that building Fiber-to-the-premise costs $500-$2500 per premise passed, plus a few hundred in equipment per premise connected. The costs of the equipment and operation are both going down over time.

This cost data suggests that $68B would be enough to build full Gigabit Fiber infrastructure to every single one of California’s more than thirteen million homes and nearly four million business. And, there would probably be enough left over to toss in the first year of Gigabit service, free (calculated at our current rate of $69.95/mo for Gigabit access including two phone lines).

It would be correct to point out that there are a number of very rural homes that are extremely expensive to reach with fiber, so perhaps that last few thousand households might take a few extra billion. But heck, these big infrastructure projects are expected to run a little over budget, right? And, those super-rural locations certainly aren’t going to get much benefit from a train that only traverses half the state.

Now, I guess we just have to hope that they can build this fancy new train on time and on budget.

Please comment below: What would you prefer: a 220Mph train, or 1000Mbps fiber?

Sebastopol Fiber Update

Residents in Sebastopol have been noticing our construction crews in the area over the last few weeks, so we can’t keep it a secret much longer: Fiber coverage is expanding!

With the first phase of construction complete and online today, we’ve got customers enjoying both 100Mbps and Gigabit speeds today. Wondering what it’s like? Read Discovery News’s recent article Surfing at a Billion Bits per Second to get an idea about what the customers there are experiencing.

Wondering what’s next?

We have decided to expand coverage further in Sebastopol in order to bring this super fast broadband service to even more of our Fusion customers. Curious about where we’re expanding? Click the map for details on the current build-out phase, which is placed and now pending Fiber splicing, and to see the next coverage zone which is currently in engineering.

Want to bring Fiber to your city?

We are prioritizing our Fiber build-out efforts on communities where we see very high uptake of our Fusion Broadband+Phone service. (Sebastopol was our most enthusiastic community, with nearly 30% of homes opting for Fusion service.) So – sign up for Fusion, the fastest copper broadband product we can deliver today, and you are helping move forward our efforts to bring Fiber to additional communities.

Sonic.net Plans Gigabit Fiber Network in San Francisco (Release)

SANTA ROSA, CA – December 14th, 2010– Sonic.net today announced it has filed a permit application to build a Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) network in San Francisco. The application encompasses an initial pilot region of two thousand homes in the Sunset District, and describes a five-year build-out plan which would reach most San Francisco premises. This network would be served from approximately 188 outdoor utility cabinets.The all-fiber network will offer full Gigabit speed Internet access to customers in San Francisco. Voice telephone service is also included. Construction of the San Francisco fiber network will begin in 2012, pending permit approval. Sonic.net currently offers copper-based broadband and telephone services throughout the greater Bay Area.

“San Francisco is our fastest-growing market for copper delivered Fusion Broadband+Phone service today, so we are very excited to bring our Fiber-optic upgrade process to the city,” said Dane Jasper, CEO & Co-Founder of Sonic.net.  “There is a huge demand in San Francisco for higher bandwidth services, and fiber is the only long-term way to meet this demand.”

The Santa Rosa-based company currently offers Fiber services in Sebastopol, Calif. Customers there can choose service with one or two included phone lines, plus ultra high-speed broadband at 100Mbps for $39.95 or 1Gbps (1000Mbps) for $69.95.

By using an all-fiber design, Sonic.net has limited the number of street-level cabinets required, while delivering future-proof services.

About Sonic.net Inc.
Sonic.net, founded in 1994, provides broadband access to consumers and wholesale ISP partners in a thirteen state region. Sonic.net’s flagship product is “Fusion”, which combines unlimited broadband and local and long distance home telephone service. For $39.95, every Fusion customer gets the maximum Internet speed possible at their location — up to 20Mbps — plus a traditional phone line with U.S. and Canadian calling included. For more information, visit www.sonic.net.

Why U.S. Broadband is So Slow

Cheap, Ultrafast Broadband? At Least Hong Kong Has It. By Randall Stross.

Today The New York Times wrote about Gigabit fiber broadband in Hong Kong, which is available there for only $26 per month. The article includes mention of Sonic.net, and the Google fiber project.

In the article, author Randall Stross wrote,

“In the United States, we don’t have anything close to that. But we could. And we should.”

Here is why we don’t:

In 1996, the US Congress kicked off the broadband revolution when it passed the Telecom Act. The 1996 Act created a level playing field for competitive carriers, and brought about widespread deployment of DSL and other broadband technologies.

Then in 2003 and 2004, the then Republican led FCC reversed course, removing shared access to essential fiber infrastructure for competitive carriers and codifying instead a policy of exclusive use and “multi-modal competition”.

This concreted our unique US duopoly: cable versus telco, the two broadband choices that most Americans have today.

In exchange for a truly competitive market, the US received promises of widespread deployment. And, to some degree this has worked. Unfettered by significant competition or price pressure, broadband in at least in its most basic form can now be delivered to most homes in America, albeit at a comparatively high cost to the consumer.

What was given up in exchange for this far-reaching but mediocre pablum was true competition and innovation.

Elsewhere in the world, regulatory bodies followed the lead of the US Congress and separated essential copper and fiber infrastructure from the services and providers who used them, and the result has been amazing. In Asia and Europe, Gigabit services are becoming common, and the price paid by consumers per megabit is a tiny fraction of what we pay here at home.

I won’t deny the innovation that has occurred in the telco/cable duopoly. They’ve got TV, Internet and telephone bundles designed to serve up prime time network shows in over-saturated HD glory, with comparatively middling Internet speeds, all offered with teaser rates and terms that would baffle an economics professor. The clear value of the bundle is to baffle, and pity the consumer who wants to shed a component. At least during the intro periods, it’s often cheaper to take the whole package than just a component or two.

For cable companies, the entrenched interest in the television entertainment portion creates a clear conflict: why should they offer an uncapped broadband connection that can deliver enough video entertainment to allow consumers to cut the TV cord? And if you do drop the TV, up goes the price for even this slow and capped Internet connection, so you pay more either way. And now that telcos have gotten into the television business too, their interest in slowing the pace of increasing broadband speed is aligned as well.

This has yielded a competitive truce in America.

In a slow tide, back and forth, cable delivers a slightly better product, then telco slightly better again, all at the highest possible cost. It is iterative, not innovative, and Americans deserve more. After all, we invented the Internet, right?

Sonic.net can reach nearly half of the homes and businesses in the Bay Area today with our Fusion Broadband + Phone service. Fusion offers the latest ADSL2+ broadband, with speeds of up to 20Mbps per line (with two line bonding available if you want to double your speed!), plus home land line voice with unlimited calling, all for $39.95/mo for one line, or $69.95 for two.

Fusion is innovative technology and innovative pricing.

This is possible because the skeleton of the 1996 Act, copper lines, are still available as a shared resource for all competitive carriers. But the reach of copper is limited to just a couple miles. (You can see if Fusion reaches your location here.) This limited reach creates islands of competition around the old telephone exchanges.

For the rest of you, a bit over half of the households in the Bay Area who are located too far from the shared telephone offices, I am afraid you are out of luck for now. We must build new fiber all the way to your home, passing by along the way the idle fiber infrastructure that the FCC set aside nearly a decade ago.

Related articles:

Sonic.net Selected by Google to Operate Stanford Fiber Network

SANTA ROSA, CA – December 13th, 2010

Sonic.net 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.

Sonic.net will manage operation of the network, provide customer service and support and perform on-site installation and repair. Sonic.net 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.

Sonic.net 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. Sonic.net’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.

“Sonic.net 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 Sonic.net. “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 Sonic.net Inc.

Sonic.net, founded in 1994, provides broadband access to consumers and wholesale partners in a thirteen state region. Sonic.net’s leading product is “Fusion”, which combines unlimited broadband and unlimited local and long distance home telephone service. Sonic.net 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 www.sonic.net.

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 www.google.com.


Dane Jasper

Dan Martin

Micro-trenching at Sonic.net

As part of our next-generation Fiber to the Home (FTTH) efforts, Sonic.net has been working on various fiber installation methods in an attempt to drive down costs and increase the speed at which fiber deployment can be completed.  Micro-trenching is anticipated to be a part of this in areas where utilities are underground.  

Here are a few photos of some of the early trial work we have done here in Santa Rosa in the past months.

This week I visited Fibrecity UK in Bournemouth in the Southwest of England to see them using the Marais SideCut system in their project. They are currently using three Marais SideCut saws as they build out to serve 80,000 homes in that community.

It was very inspirational to see the Marais saw in daily use there in a production deployment. The Marais solution is fast, cutting about 15ft per minute. (Marais RC50 pictured, Fibrecity actually uses the RT80 model.)

In a parallel universe, Google has been testing micro-trenching techniques as part of their Google Fiber for Communities project. We had heard from common contacts in the industry that Google had held a race, and I was very pleased to see that they have now released a video “Micro-trenching at Google” this last week showing the results.

Google’s video is a nice introduction to micro-trenching, and it’s exciting to see Google also pushing the envelope on new construction methods.

Sonic.net Fiber

Photo by Kent Porter / The Press Democrat

We are working on construction of next generation all-fiber optic networks, as the next step after our Fusion Broadband service.  We announced two weeks ago at the Ignite event in Sebastopol that we would be building a residential test network there as the first fiber optic deployment.

For more details on our progress on this project, please read the Press Democrat article which was published this weekend.

The primary driver for deployment will be customer interest. We have not set the thresholds at this time, but we will deploy fiber optics in each community when a certain percentage of households are on our copper network.

We will be publishing percentages for various communities in the next few months so that you can spread the word and gauge progress toward fiber construction in your area.

FlexLink Product Launch

Our new FlexLink business Internet access products were launched this week. I’ll blog a bit of a sales pitch here, because I am real excited about the new technology behind the products.

These are the first products built on our new next generation network. Currently available in Santa Rosa, the FlexLink products will be expanding through much of Sonoma County and parts of the Bay Area over the remainder of the year.

For business customers, FlexLink offers some amazing new products and price points. Today, many businesses use reliable symmetrical T1 lines to serve their Internet access needs, with a cost that’s typically $300 to $500 per month. Our new FlexLink T1 product has pricing from just $249/mo. That’s a tidy little savings, but what’s even more exciting is that our FlexLink Dual-T1 is just $299/mo! That’s double the bandwidth for less than the cost of a typical single T1. Today’s business has more bandwidth needs, and single T1 just isn’t enough. Dual-T1 offers a full 3.0Mbps in both directions, which is a nice size for small work groups.

But the reality is that many businesses need even more bandwidth. With home DSL and cable exceeding the inbound (but not outbound) speed of T1 and Dual-T1 configurations, it’s probably time to consider faster access.

The entry level T1 and Dual-T1 products are interesting and cost effective, but our 5Mbps, 7.5Mbps and 10Mbps Ethernet links are even more exciting. With pricing from $499/mo, $599 and $699/mo, it makes more sense than ever to simply connect the business LAN to our LAN with FlexLink Ethernet! Growing bandwidth needs make 10mbps symmetric today what T1 1.5Mbps service was for businesses five or six years ago. Today’s larger Internet applications and the need for snappy Internet performance requires fast connections.

We haven’t yet set firm pricing for higher speeds, but there’s really no reason to stop at 10Mbps on FlexLink. It’s possible to deliver speeds of 30 to 40Mbps on our FlexLink Ethernet platform – so there’s room to grow. Then, our FlexLink Fiber Ethernet products step in, with speeds of 50, 100, and onward.

In asymmetric products, FlexLink ADSL2+ provides more inbound bandwidth for businesses that don’t send as much data to the Internet. With pricing from $129 to $169, and speeds from 8Mbps/1Mbps to 15Mbps/1Mbps, FlexLink ADSL2+ is a great upgrade from old ADSL1 technology for businesses.

More product info and sales contacts can be found here: http://www.sonic.net/sales/flexlink/