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Sonic brings ultra-fast Internet to Sebastopol

  • HP Communications employees William Arevalo uses a cable lasher to install fiber optic cable for Sonic.net, an Internet provider, along Florence Ave. on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, in Sebastopol, California. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Sonoma County will soon be home to some of the fastest residential Internet anywhere in the United States.

Sonic.net, the hometown Internet provider that began 17 years ago in a Santa Rosa home, is only a few weeks away from completing the first phase of a fiber optic network that will run directly to people's homes in Sebastopol.

The blazing fast network, which is many times faster than telephone DSL or a cable connection, will enable home computers to tap directly into the backbone of the Internet. The fiber optic network allows the company to offer Internet connections up to 1 gigabit per second, said Dane Jasper, co-founder and president of the company.

"Speed will no longer be a factor," Jasper said. "You're completely connected."

The service will be available to about 60 homes on Florence Avenue in about a month, and will become available to an additional 640 homes by the end of the year, Jasper said.

The fastest connection, which will be 1 gigabit per second, will cost $69.95 per month and include two phone lines and unlimited long distance calling. The company will also offer a 100 megabit per second connection for $39.95 monthly, which will include one phone line with unlimited long distance calling.

A full-length DVD could be downloaded in a manner of seconds. A high-definition broadcast TV channel only requires about 25 megabits per second of bandwidth - or about one fortieth of a gigabit connection.

The Santa Rosa broadband company, which for years has provided Internet service by piggybacking off AT&T's copper phone lines, will for the first time link customers to the Internet using its own network connected directly to homes. It will become the fastest Internet available to private homes in the Bay Area - and likely in California. Most other fiber-to-the-home networks in the United States offer speeds up to 150 megabits per second.

Google made national headlines last year when it announced plans to build a fiber network directly to people's homes and deliver Internet speeds up to 1 gigabit. The Mountain View company is nearly complete with its own pilot project on Stanford campus that will deliver that high speed connection to faculty homes. Google chose Sonic.net to manage that network, meaning the Santa Rosa company will be operating two of the fastest residential networks anywhere in the United States.

The Sebastopol network is a test project for Sonic.net, Jasper said. If everything goes according to plan, the company is likely to build a fiber optic residential network in Santa Rosa or San Francisco next.


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