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.

Ignite: Community Broadband Alternatives

This is a brief talk I gave recently as the Ignite event in Sebastopol. The topic follows up on the previous posting where we highlighted press coverage about our goal of deploying a fiber to the home (FTTH) test network. If the large number of comments on the previous entry are any indication, there is substantial interest in the fiber topic.

I hope you can find some ideas and inspiration here that will help bring broadband alternatives to your community!