Sonic.net, the homegrown Internet service provider, is unveiling a slew of new products from TV service to faster broadband as it attempts to become a full-fledged telecommunications company.
It recently began launching new services to both its business and residential customers after spending months jumping through regulatory hurdles and investing about $2 million in new equipment and training.
Over the coming year, the Santa Rosa company will continue to roll out new products such as traditional phone service, satellite TV and possibly even cell phone service as it takes advantage of its recently awarded governmental status as a telecom.
Nothing less than the future of the 14-year-old company is at stake, said Dane Jasper, who built Sonic.net from a startup on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus into a business with more than 70 employees and $17 million in annual revenues.
"This is the future for us," said Jasper, president and CEO of Sonic.net.
A key element of its strategy is the relentless pursuit of greater bandwidth and faster Internet speeds.
Sonic is building next-generation DSL networks throughout the Bay Area, and it plans to offer download speeds up to 18 Mbps to residential customers -- and even faster speeds for businesses.
Its prices for the faster DSL services range from $45 to $80 for residential customers, and a bit more for businesses. Customers who bundle together phone and TV service get a discount.
The company hopes to capitalize on the growing demand for bundled services and blazing-fast Internet.
"The market potential is huge," Jasper said.
However, the initial deployment of the new service, which it dubs Fusion Broadband, will be very limited. Its technology only allows it to offer services within one mile of the hardware it has installed in central offices run by AT&amp;T. Most cities only have one central office, which hampers Sonic's ability to blanket a market. Santa Rosa has two central offices, enabling Sonic to serve customers in the city's downtown and western sections.
The big exception is San Francisco, which has nine central offices. There, Sonic's services will cover nearly the whole city.
Sonic currently provides Internet service to about 46,000 homes and businesses. About 14,000 of those customers are in Sonoma County, where its highest concentration of customers live.
The Santa Rosa-based Internet provider has spent the previous 14 years as a small operator with a reputation for customer service. Now it hopes to expand into a significantly larger role, while holding true to its hard-earned reputation.
Customers within areas served by the new network will be able to buy traditional phone service from Sonic when it becomes available early next year. Or they can go without a landline. Previously, Sonic's DSL customers were required to have phone service with AT&amp;T.
Sonic will also offer satellite TV service to any household within a 50-mile radius of Santa Rosa sometime early next year. It is working with El Segundo-based DirecTV, which provides the satellite connection while Sonic provides installation, customer service and a single bill. Monthly service starts at $29.99.
Eventually, the company hopes to bundle mobile phone service onto the same bill and is in talks with a major mobile provider, Jasper said.
Customers who bundle traditional phone service and Internet will receive monthly discounts of about 20 percent, and even more for adding TV service.