Santa Rosa Internet Provider Sonic Launches Fast Fiber Optic Network, As California Prepares Ambitious Broadband Expansion

The coronavirus pandemic has made the reliable and affordable internet the most essential tool for people to work remotely and for students to participate in virtual classes at home.

Workers are increasingly relying on Internet bandwidth to provide the transmission speeds and video capabilities they are accustomed to in the office.

When schools in Sonoma County and the country turned to the internet in the spring of 2020 for teachers to virtually teach in the classroom, the so-called digital divide highlighted the geographic and economic inequalities in accessing a higher education. reliable flow.

Against this backdrop, Santa Rosa-based Sonic, Northern California’s largest independent Internet provider, with approximately 150,000 customers from Watsonville to Fort Bragg and parts of the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas, decided the last year to invest $ 10 million in a new high-speed fiber optic network in his hometown. By next August, the company will complete the first part of its ultra-fast home Internet network.

Connected customers will have the ability to download data, movies and games, and upload video and system backups to multiple devices in a home, at up to 10,000 megabits per second. Sonic CEO and co-founder Dane Jasper called the performance “quickly stupid.”

This month, Sonic began activating customers on this fiber-optic network in the central and eastern parts of Santa Rosa, including the McDonald Avenue neighborhood where the company made its humble beginnings in 1994 since. Jasper’s childhood home when he was 21 in Santa Rosa. Junior college student. Its original offering was the dial-up Internet, for those of us who remember this relic.

Sonic will be the fastest mass-market, reasonably priced fiber-optic broadband network that Jasper says he’s unaware of anywhere else in the United States. In the first wave of customer connectivity, Sonic plans to allow 15,000 of the city’s 60,000 homes to access it for $ 40 per month. After one year, the monthly cost will drop to $ 50. For comparison, for example, Chattanooga, Tennessee, a municipal utility provider, offers similar high-speed residential Internet service, but for $ 300 per month.

“It’s faster than most people need, what you want for a broadband provider,” Jasper told me, indicating that the intense network speed will likely be sufficient for Sonic customers for a while. a decade as they buy new laptops and other computer equipment.

Olivia Browning, a professional photographer living in a one-bedroom apartment on Charles Street in Santa Rosa near Luther Burbank Gardens, is going to be one of the first clients to gain access to Sonic’s super-fast fiber network.

Browning said it would be handy if they could increase their internet speed for photo editing. Its activation coincides with its intention to buy a new Mac laptop, so it expects to have the necessary hardware to enjoy the blazing speed. And buying the Internet from Sonic, she told me, fits her habit of “going local” with her purchases whenever she can.

According to data from the Federal Communications Commission, many US consumers have high-speed home Internet connections from their cable company capable of downloading a transmission of at least 100 Mbps, with much slower download speeds. For many years, Sonic’s primary business and home Internet service has been much faster at 1000 Mbps.

The FCC’s definition of broadband or broadband Internet service is expected to accelerate at the request of Congress, from a minimum of 25 Mbps for downloads to 100 Mbps for downloads, and 3 Mbps for downloads to 20 Mbps for downloads.

Home or business access is via technologies such as cable, digital subscriber lines that use telephone lines to transmit data, wireless networks, fiber optics and satellite. Fiber optic internet offers the fastest speeds, typically 1000 Mbps or more. However, only 44% of Americans have access to it, according to FCC data, as internet access in most areas is dominated by one or two big players.

Duopoly dominates internet access

Most Internet connections of any kind nationwide are provided by a duopoly, controlled either by a cable company – most commonly Comcast – or a former Bell telephony provider such as AT&T or Verizon. Both offer bundled services: cable TV and Internet from the cable company or phone service and broadband from the phone company.

Today, American consumers pay the highest prices in the developed world for high-speed Internet connections. “Consumers want more choice for Internet access,” said the CEO of Sonic, noting that America needs 1,000 more independent providers to build broadband networks to reduce prices enough for them. households. “Creating competition is so important. “

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