Tag: Fusion

Get the new Sonic Fusion app, free!

iphone5_linesettingsIf you’ve got an iPhone, we’ve got an app for you!

The new Sonic Fusion Mobile app for iPhone will alert you when someone leaves you a voicemail, providing easy message playback while you are on the go. The app also offers access to line settings, including call forwarding. This makes it easy to forward your Fusion line to your mobile phone or another destination, even when you’re already away from home or the office.

The app is free, just go to sonic.net/fusionapp from your iPhone’s Safari browser to install it now.

For Fusion voicemail notifications, be sure to allow notifications when you start the app. When setting up the app for the first time, you will need to be at the location where your Fusion service is delivered to authenticate the line.

To address the obvious question, “What about Android?”: We plan to see how much interest there is in the app for iPhone before we commit to development for the Android platform. If it is very popular, we are likely to commit to Android support too.


Sonic.net Fusion adds unsolicited call blocking

I am very pleased to announce our latest free Fusion Phone feature:

Unsolicited Telemarketing Call Blocking!

This has been one of our most frequently requested features. With our new unsolicited telemarketing call blocking feature, calls from known unsolicited telemarketing callers are silently rejected, saving our members time and frustration. This feature will not eliminate all of the annoying unsolicited calls, but it should reduce the number of unsolicited telemarketing calls that our members receive.
For members who prefer not to participate in this blocking, this feature can be configured in our Member Tools, in the Voice settings. Here are the details on that:
Voice options:
You can manage your Fusion phone line features such as call blocking, voicemail, call waiting and forwarding, plus view usage details. Here is a list of the Fusion voice features and settings which you can manage online:
  • Voicemail settings
  • Call waiting configuration
  • Caller ID blocking
  • Anonymous call rejection (new!)
  • Unsolicited telemarketing call filtering (new!)
  • International toll call blocking
  • Call forwarding

To access Fusion voice settings, visit the Voice section of the Member Tools. Once there, select the telephone number of the Fusion line you would like to configure. If you decide to make any changes, be sure to click “Update” to save the new configuration.

Customer Forum:
If you have questions about using these features or about Fusion telephone service in general, please click to visit our Voice Forum.
Please tell a friend!
As you have probably noticed, your Fusion service gets better as we grow. Membership growth is the key, so I am asking for your assistance: please tell a friend or neighbor about Fusion today.
The Fusion vision is to build the ideal service: fast unlimited broadband with strong privacy policies, plus unlimited phone service and lots of features included free. Thank you for your support as we continue to work to make our vision a reality.


Dane Jasper
CEO & Co-Founder
Sonic.net/Sonic Telecom

P.S.: We also really appreciate your shout-outs, likes and follows on Facebook andTwitter!

Fusion Free Borderless Calling Expansion (sorry, Antarctica!)

Late last year, we launched  “Borderless Calling” for Fusion, with eight total hours of free calls to Canada. We chose Canada because it was our most popular international destination, and this has saved our Fusion members a ton of money on their monthly bills over the last year.

We are now expanding free calling beyond North America, to the top call destination on every continent!

For each continent*, we tallied our Fusion members’ top international destination, and added the most-called country on each continent* to our free Borderless calling list. (Go ahead, click the asterisk. I know you want to. I’ll wait.)

Fusion Borderless Calling now includes eight total hours of free calls to land line telephones in six countries plus four territories. (Calls to mobile phones are still toll calls, except in the US, Canada and the US territories. See international rates for full details.)

Fusion Borderless Calling now includes:

  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • South Africa

Fusion already includes free unlimited calling to all 50 US states, plus US territories:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Guam
  • US Virgin Islands
  • American Samoa

As Fusion membership grows, we will continue to add more features, including more free Borderless calling destinations. So please, tell a friend about Fusion unlimited broadband and phone service, now with free Borderless Calling to ten international destinations, all for only $39.95/mo.

Thank you for being a Sonic.net Fusion customer!

The fine print:

For full international call pricing and to look up a rate, see the international rate table.

All calling features for Fusion service are limited to interactive use by our members. You may not re-sell or share the service. For details, see: use provisions.

* Apologies to the roughly 3,687 scientists and staff at the various Antarctic research stations, and even deeper apologies to the 964 who typically stay through the long and isolated winter. I imagine you would really appreciate a call from one of our friendly Fusion members. But, your telephone service is all satellite delivery, so I am going to pretend that you aren’t really a continent. From the perspective of free Fusion Borderless calls to land lines, you’re not. Sorry!

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.

Fusion Product Changes

Today we have made changes to our Fusion service in order to further simplify the product, to improve service delivery, and to lower costs.

Previously Fusion was a bit confusing – it’s one product, but was offered four different ways: residential single-line, residential dual-line, business single-line and business dual-line. This meant four different price points, and business users basically paid more for less: a $10 to $20 higher monthly fee, plus a penny a minute for all their calls. (More on this below!)

We have also found that residential dual-line service was rarely purchased, with only one out of twenty customers selecting this product. When it was, there were more delivery challenges due to the household wiring, and more cancellations due to delivered speed concerns.

We often found that these residential customers didn’t actually want the two phone lines, and instead were hoping for more speed, generally seeking 20-40Mbps. While bonded Fusion is double the speed of a single line, it was sometimes being purchased by folks located at longer much longer distances who were desperate for more performance. For a speed-hungry consumer on a very long loop, they frankly might be better served by a cable broadband service at those locations.

On the other hand, even at longer lengths and slower speeds, the single-line service is a compelling value: unlimited and uncapped broadband at the maximum speed that we can deliver plus home phone with unlimited usage for $39.95. It’s a very nice deal. Two lines for seventy dollars plus the applicable voice taxes just isn’t a very good fit, and it shows in the signup and churn numbers.

We have also been studying resource usage by our business customers, and we’ve found that from the perspective of voice usage, they actually use less than the average home user! This was a surprise to us, and it created an opportunity: simply eliminate the $0.01 charge that our business customers have been paying for calling. So, that’s in effect from today – Fusion phone service is now very simple: free calling, regardless of location type.

Based upon all of these findings, today we have reduced the Fusion service to two very simple products:

  • For Residential customers:
    • Unlimited broadband and home phone for $39.95
  • For Business customers:
    • Two phone lines plus double speed broadband for $89.95

Of course both of these products include all of our free features like FaxLine electronic fax, a free domain name with Personal Web Hosting, 15 email accounts, Free International calling, Voicemail and voice features like Caller ID.

For currently users of the two products we have eliminated (residential two-line service, and business one-line service) we will continue to provide the service to these customers at the current price points, so nothing changes for these established customers. (One bonus: for the business customers, they will no longer be billed for their voice usage!) For a new home customer who really wants the two line service, we will deliver the faster business service to a home location.

We are also changing the way that we provide equipment. We found that when customers re-use a modem from another provider, they often spend a lot of time get it set up, and it is always in question if there is trouble with the circuit. Is the problem the modem, or the line? If it’s the modem, who is responsible, and how much time does the customer have to spend with us to get that worked out? With an older ADSL1 modem that lacks ADSL2+ support, the customer’s speed will be limited to 8Mbps, potentially much slower than it would be with a modern unit. Also, does that old modem have a full set of the necessary filters, for all the regular telephone devices in the home?

So, equipment is now provided free for every new customer. The basic kit for residential customers includes everything that’s required, including new phone line filters, a splitter, Ethernet and phone cables and the modem itself. This should make getting set up with Fusion easier than ever, and if there is trouble – our staff know the product well, if there is trouble, we can easily swap or replace it if the modem is at fault. Of course, even things that are free there is a catch: sales tax, and shipping and handling. However, we know that the provided equipment and setup kit will make setup and support much easier for our new customers.

For those who want a device with Wi-Fi, an advanced kit is also available. It includes a modem with four-port Ethernet router and Wi-Fi access point, now offered at a discounted price of $19.95.

For our business customers, we now provide a ZyXel dual-line bonding ADSL2+ modem which has four Ethernet ports and built-in Wi-Fi. It’s a great small office solution, delivering dual-line Fusion speed and convenient Wi-Fi access.

Finally, in an effort to keep monthly recurring costs as low as possible, we are now charging a line activation fee of $35 for the residential service, or $85 for the two-line business service. This keeps most of the one-time costs of circuit ordering and provisioning in a one-time payment, so we don’t have to amortize these one-time expenses into the monthly rate that customers pay forever.

Over the last couple years, we have made many changes to improve our Fusion service, and I’m excited to be continuing the product evolution. Our team is working hard to make the product easier, faster and more useful for you, at the best possible price point.


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.

Web Hogs!

I have always felt that our customers buy connections from us to use them. Abuse them. Hog up big chunks of the web. Fill up those tubes! And to just generally consume what they are buying: a big fast broadband pipe, to use however they see fit.

As more and more broadband providers have instituted caps, I have continued to say that caps are really not necessary and that even if congestion was to be a problem, consumption caps are the wrong way to address the potential problem: congestion during peak time on the network slowing everyone down.

The capping of Internet consumption is a hot topic. In the Bay Area, SF Gate’s James Temple has written about caps, and the folks at Stop The Cap have been fighting Canada’s proposed usage based billing (UBB) scheme as well as the capping by U.S. providers.

My opinion is that caps make little technical sense, and I believe that the fundamental reason for capping is to prevent disruption of the television entertainment business model that feeds the TV screens in most households.

It’s common sense — if you are selling a service bundle to a household that includes a subscription TV service, it would make business sense if there wasn’t enough broadband capacity to replace it.

As of 2008, the Nielsen Co. says that the average American household consumes just over 8 hours per day of TV. To replace this with some sort of innovative and interesting new Over-The-Top offering, it would consume roughly 480 Gigabytes per month (based upon Netflix consumption at their current top “HD” rate.)

Keep in mind that this is the normative household TV consumption, so roughly half of homes view more than this! Add in day-to-day Internet use and clearly the 150GB to 250GB caps which are typical today are an effective blockade.

Because I’ve got a contrary viewpoint on caps, when Diffraction Analysis contacted us to ask if we would participate in a study of real-world usage we decided we should put our money where our mouth was. We ponied up with anonymous, summary consumption statistics for their use in this study.

The results they’ve come out with are quite interesting. Their report, “Do data caps punish the wrong users? A bandwidth usage reality check” is available for purchase on the Diffraction site, but the study author has also provided a summary on his Fiberevolution blog.

In it, he states that:

Data caps, therefore, are a very crude and unfair tool when it comes to targeting potentially disruptive users. The correlation between real-time bandwidth usage and data downloaded over time is weak and the net cast by data caps captures users that cannot possibly be responsible for congestion. Furthermore, many users who are “as guilty” as the ones who are over cap (again, if there is such a thing as a disruptive user) are not captured by that same net.

Their conclusion is reassuring, as it affirms our gut feelings about user behaviors and consumption: while heavy consumers may tend to be a contributor to peak load, their total consumption is a poor proxy for their impact during the potentially critical peak-load periods. We believe that if any bandwidth management were required, slowing the largest consumer down to the level of the next-largest and so on, in the specific moment during congestion conditions would be a more reasonable policy.

That said, note that bandwidth management is not used in our network. We upgrade links before congestion occurs.

What are your feelings about provider caps? Let us know in the comments!

Related reading:
Do data caps punish the wrong users? – Fiberevolution
“Bandwidth hogs” join unicorns in realm of mythical creatures – Ars Technica
The ‘Bandwidth Hog’ is a Myth – DSLReports

Sonic.net Goes International

Sonic.net’s Fusion Broadband+Phone service is moving into the next phase of expansion:

Free international calling!

To kick off, we announced this week that our most frequently called country, Canada, will be our first free international destination for Fusion residential customers. Business Fusion customers can now call Canada for their domestic rate, just a penny a minute. See my recent article, “O Canada” (yeah, I know, it’s corny) for limitations and all of the details.

This is an exciting new capability for our Fusion broadband and home phone service, and I am really looking forward to seeing how our customers respond to this new feature.

Let us know in the comments, where would you like to be able to call free?

We will add more destinations soon, and the long-term plan is that calling to most countries will be free. Growth in our Fusion customer quantity will determine how quickly this will occur. So, tell your friends about Fusion!

"Anticipation" -- © Robert S. Donovan -- Flickr/booleansplit

America’s Intentional Broadband Duopoly


Michael Powell

When was the last time someone offered to sell you Broadband over Power Line (BPL)?

BPL was one of the FCC’s five “modes” of competitive access, and the FCC traded this flawed concept of “intermodal” competition for true open market competition.

In 1996, Congress passed The Telecom Act, a major update to the previous 1934 telecommunications law. The updated Act set out to foster true competition in local communication services, and, by extension, broadband. And, it almost worked.

The Act separated services – voice, data, etc – from the physical infrastructure they ran over (copper wires) and allowed competitors uniform access to the cabling to deliver these services. The incumbent sold access to the copper lines, at a profit, to multiple competitors who deployed the equipment connected to the ends. This recognition of the copper lines themselves as a natural monopoly, while services over them were competitive, was the key to the goal of vibrant and open competitive access.

This innovative Act spurred the widespread deployment of DSL services, and a tumultuous period of competitive over-construction and subsequent bankruptcies. These failures don’t condem the concept of competition, but were an over-exuberance of investment ahead of demand. Startup telcos also suffered during the dot-com crash in 2001; as funding dried up, large cash consumption rates caught up with reserves for many of these companies.

In the late 1990’s, most other developed nations followed the U.S. example in separating structure from services. They have stayed the course, and in Europe and Asia today competitive access has driven up broadband speeds, at lower costs.

But, in global broadband rankings, the U.S. isn’t even in the top ten! This is because despite Congress’s expressed intention of creating competition with The Act, the FCC decided that five competitors was enough. And, three of them were non-starters.

With the appointment of FCC Chairman Michael Powell, and lobbying by incumbents, a new theory was born: Intermodal competition was better than true open competition. The modes: Cable, Telco, Power Line, Satellite and Wireless. Each, an effective state-created monopoly. This was done under the banner of the free market, a topsy-turvy way to look at the elimination of actual competition.

With the shift away from the 1996 Act’s open competition model toward this constrained intermodal goal, the FCC began to make a series of decisions to clear the decks of meaningful competition, freeing Cable to spar with Telco, with Broadband over Power Line and Wireless. Satellite would bring up the rear for those unlucky enough to live in a region not worth investing in by the designated modal monopoly.

To create these modal monopolies, the FCC began to foreclose meaningful competition. First, they set aside access to available idle incumbent fiber optic lines for competitors, meaning the the suburbs, which are served by fiber-fed digital loop carriers and remote terminals, were out of reach. In their Triennial Review Remand Order of 2004, the FCC wrote:

In our Triennial Review Order, we recognized the marketplace realities of robust broadband competition and increasing competition from intermodal sources, and thus eliminated most unbundling requirements for broadband architectures serving the mass market

Robust broadband competition? Really?

Then, in the Brand X decision, they ruled that Cable would not be required to allow competitors to lease their lines either. The FCC did this by reclassifying broadband Internet access as an “information service”, rather than a “telecommunications service”. As a result, common carriage rules could be set aside, allowing for an incumbent Cable monopoly. This decision was challenged all the way to the supreme court, who ruled in 2005 that the FCC had the jurisdiction to make this decision.

To close out Powell’s near-complete dismantling of competitive services in the U.S., the FCC took up the issue of ISPs resale of DSL using the incumbent’s equipment, also known as wholesale “bitstream” access. If Cable is an information service under Brand X, why shouldn’t Telco have the same “regulatory relief”? The result: the FCC granted forbearance (in other words, declined to enforce its rules) from the common carriage requirements for telco DSL services.

As for robust intermodal competition, the fact is that BPL hasn’t worked. And Wireless is slow and expensive. And of course satellite, with its round-trip to outer space and back really isn’t a contender.

So, much of the U.S. has ended up with exactly what the FCC intended: intermodal competition, an effective duopoly. The predictable result: the U.S. is no longer a broadband leader.

There are pockets of competitive offerings. Most businesses can choose telephone and Internet service from a competitive company. And, in metropolitan regions, there may also be competitive choices like Sonic.net’s Fusion service, or Covad ADSL2+.

For those in the suburbs, competitive prospects are pretty dim. That was the intention.

Review: Western Electric 302 Telephone

One of the advantages of Sonic.net’s Fusion Broadband+Phone service is that it’s “POTS”; plain old telephone service. This means that all of the devices that you may have used for years on your voice telephone line should still work.

To illustrate this, I picked up a very special Western Electric 302 telephone, built in 1941, and connected it to my Fusion service at home. The 302 is associated with I Love Lucy, and if you look closely at the video, you may catch this phone’s particular connection to Lucile Ball.

Fusion delivers the best of both worlds: traditional DC line-powered voice service, with it’s inherent reliability and e911 capabilities, alongside modern features such as unlimited nationwide calling for home users, modern voicemail with “unified inbox” (voicemail in your email, as well as via phone) and modern voicemail notifications like SMS text and Twitter.

Building on this solid voice platform, we add uncapped and unlimited full-speed broadband, a killer combination! Please help us spread the word!

As for the WE 302 – it’s got great sound quality, a bit fuller and deep than modern phones. The heft is astounding. The metal base and hefty guts in this version mean you would not want to drop the set on your foot. The bakelite handset is also heavy. It has a triangular profile, so you cannot rest it on your shoulder, the classic “holding a phone with your head” pose that’s possible with the more modern WE 500. That’s probably for the best, this means you really cannot multi-task, so it’s a perfect “standing in the entryway talking on the phone” device. When the party on the other end is using the WE 302, you know they’re not multitasking and ignoring you!

The ringer is loud, as you can hear in the video, but in this version, it has no ringer on/off switch, so it’s tough luck if you want to take a nap. The 305 model added this mod-con. I’ve also been experiencing inconsistent problems with the pulse dialing, I suspect this 70 year old unit needs a tune-up. Short numbers like 411 I’ve been pretty successful, but it is a real challenge to get a full seven digit number to dial. I’ll keep troubleshooting and see if I can resolve that.

If you’re looking for a classic rotary or touch-tone phone to put on your Fusion line, check eBay’s classic telephones section. YMMV, buyer beware, really old phones may or may not work, etc. I’d suggest something like a Western Electric 500, rotary or touch-tone. They are a great addition to your household as a phone to use when power is out, and unlike a cordless, you will never find yourself rummaging around the couch cushions trying to find your classic corded phone!