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Sonic transforms, offers bundled service

Sonic.net's transformation into a full-fledged telecommunication company continues to evolve, with the company announcing a new residential Internet service at an even lower price.

The Santa Rosa company now offers a bundled service that includes Internet access up to 20 megabits per second with a traditional phone line that includes unlimited local and long distance calling within the United States for $39.95.

John Vallelunga, an Agilent engineer who lives in Santa Rosa, switched to the service and said he saved about $55 a month.

"The cost of my Sonic Internet went down, and I got to get rid of AT&T phone service and Sprint long distance," Vallelunga said. "It was a no brainer."

The new "Fusion" service is the result of Sonic.net's effort to transform itself into a telecommunication company. It has spent the last two years building a next-generation DSL network across the Bay Area.

"If they can deliver up to 20 megabits per second, that would be an excellent price," said Lee Ratliff, a senior broadband analyst with iSuppli, a market research firm. "It would be fairly disruptive in the areas they serve."

After completing regulatory hurdles in 2008, Sonic.net became an approved public utility company. That allowed it to develop and deliver its own services, which now reach about 1 million Bay Area homes. It provides its own phone service and ultra-fast broadband, plus free services such as unlimited long distance calling, voicemail, caller ID and call waiting.

Previously the company purchased wholesale DSL services from AT&T, and than re-branded the products and provided its own customer service.

The company's co-founder and chief executive, Dane Jasper, decided to forgo the common industry practice of limiting a customer's Internet speed based on pricing tiers. Instead customers get the fastest Internet speed Sonic.net can deliver to their home.

The actual connection speed depends on factors that include the home's distance from Sonic.net's network equipment and the thickness and quality of the copper lines running to the home.

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