Today we delivered service for our first Fusion Broadband customer in Santa Rosa.
The first circuit was delivered for Bob Amen, a long time Sonic.net customer. Bob is also the director of systems and network admin at local publisher O’Reilly Media. Bob ordered our middle speed (10Mbps) dry loop (aka “Naked”) DSL for his home, and he’s got a solid connection at the full speed.
Our team is continuing to do the heavy lifting required to build out the network. I am pleased and inspired by the progress. We are all looking forward to continued expansion.
In addition to downtown Santa Rosa, we have completed equipment setup in Sebastopol, Berkeley, Rohnert Park and Windsor. We have put cabinets into Healdsburg, plus two offices in San Francisco, and will be bolting them down and installing equipment and power. Albany, Petaluma and other San Francisco offices are coming soon.
Progress is displayed on our beautiful tally board, pictured here. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We will keep you posted as we progress to the “Gold Star” for each CO, and meanwhile, you can order service here!
Our low power mesh Wi-Fi project has been slowly growing in coverage, and we are now serving between 250 and 300 users per day with free broadband access. Service is available in parts of Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Airport Express buses to SFO, plus scattered locations around the bay area.
But in Sebastopol, concerned citizens have been lobbying the city council to revoke our contract, and this week, the council reversed themselves, voiding the contract that we signed in November. Here’s an article on the topic from Sebastopol resident Dale Dougherty. See also news at BroadBandReports.
The studies show that self-identified electrosensitive individuals DO exhibit real symptoms, including headache, skin rashes and anxiety. But, double blind studies show that the symptoms are unrelated to exposure to the radio signals. In other words, electrosensitive individuals placed in a shielded room and not exposed to radio signals do exhibit symptoms. They exhibit more symptoms if they believe the transmitter is turned on, and their manifestation of symptoms is not apparently related to the on/off status of the radio equipment.
The conclusion of study after study is that the symptoms are psychosomatic, and are likely a result of fear and stress. In the case of Wi-Fi and other radio signals, this suggests that what we have to fear from Wi-Fi is simply fear of Wi-Fi.
If you’ve got concerns at this point, please let me put things into perspective. Wi-Fi signals are typically 0.1 watt. Compare this to the mobile phone that you keep in your pocket, which is typically three to ten times this power level. When it’s at it’s highest power level, you hold it next to your head to conduct a conversation. Ever notice that your skin gets warm after a long call? That’s the only side effect of RF energy – warming. (Correction: While RF does cause minor heating, more than one individual has pointed out that most of the heat that you’d feel from the phone is due to the battery discharging, not from the tiny amount of RF. Sorry! -DJ) That is how microwave ovens work, at a much higher power level of 500-700 watts.
Our mesh network uses repeaters which are very low power, the same as a typical laptop or Linksys or Apple Airport access point. The transmitters are generally located 35 feet up on street light poles.
Finally, Wi-Fi is already widely deployed in Sebastopol today by residents and businesses there. The linked image below is a screencap from WiGLE.net, a Wi-Fi mapping service. It shows all Wi-Fi access points detected by volunteers who have submitted them – not Sonic.net’s network (we only have one access point in Sebastopol currently), just everything else (over 250 existing access points).
To give a rather extreme example to illustrate the point, our Wi-Fi plans called for a Wi-Fi repeater on the street light at the corner of 12 and Main St. Today, there are already roughly 25 private access points within a one block radius of that spot.
If there was a public network, would less people spend their own money to buy and set up private access points, resulting in less Wi-Fi transmitters? If you fear Wi-Fi, a single public network might be “better” than hundreds of independent networks!
Wi-Fi is not a money maker for Sonic.net at this point, but I do believe it is a worthwhile project. Without continued development and experimentation in wireless technologies, many people will be left with just two broadband choices – AT&T, or Comcast. I don’t believe that duopoly will serve consumers well. Mesh wireless is an exciting alternative that can enable low cost Internet access for everyone.