Sonic High-Speed FAQ

Sonic's answers to my questions starting in December, 2017


Table of Contents

Dec. 2017: Gigabit

Sonic may be installing Gigabit fiber optic service in the Piedmont Avenue area of north Oakland, California, in late 2018. There are some answers on Sonic's fiber page. However, I still had questions. They provided these answers which other potential customers may find helpful:

Net neutrality and AT&T

Cost

Speed

From the various answers here and on their Speed Page, it seems that wifi speed could be anywhere in the 20-600 Mbps range.

VOIP

If you get Sonic's gigabit fiber service, it includes their VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service. That raises these questions, which I sent them in January, 2018:
  1. Jacks: Will all the phones in my house work as before, plugged into the regular phone jacks scattered around the house (known as Plain Old Telephone Service, or POTS), or just the one plugged into the new hardware you will provide? I understand that I can get around that by plugging in the base unit for a bunch of wireless phones into your hardware, and plugging in remote wireless units around the house using just the electric sockets, not the phone jacks.
    A: We guarantee at least one working phone jack that you can simply plug your regular phone into. This will be connected to the ONT (optical network terminal), which is effectively the base unit. It's possible that more phone jacks will be activated when the service is connected if your wiring is already set up for it. It's not a bad idea to set up remote cordless phone units with the main base connected to the ONT.
  2. Fax: My girlfriend has an all-in-one printer with an ordinary phone line connecting it to the wall jack. If we have only VOIP, how will she be able to send and receive faxes? I guess the only way we will know whether our existing phone jacks will still work (which you said is possible) is to try them and see, after we switch to gigabit. So, if they don't work, she'll have no way to fax. Unplugging her all-in-one and carrying it over to plug directly into your new hardware is not an attractive option. The only other options I can think of are to get a super-long Ethernet cable, like 50 or 60 feet, to connect her fax to your hardware temporarily, but that's not attractive either; or to replace her all-in-one with one that connects wirelessly. Can you think of anything to add?
    A: Another option comes to mind regarding the fax issue. All of our connectivity customers have a digital fax service free of charge in our member tools. You can read about our send-a-fax tool here: Send a Fax. [Author's note: I have tested it by sending a fax to a real fax machine, and it works.] Here is some info on our free virtual fax service for receiving faxes: FaxLine.
  3. Power failure: I understand that my phones won't work if there is a power failure or the Internet is out. (I understand that I have the option to buy a battery backup system.) But I read that some modern ATAs (Analog Telephone Adapter) can switch to old-style service if the power goes out. I take it that the ATAs you provide do not handle that.
    A: The phone service goes through the ONT, and doesn't actually utilize a separate ATA. If the ONT has power it will be able to connect to the internet and provide you with phone service as well. If there isn't any power, then the phone service will not function.
  4. Message Waiting Indicator: I've read that some people had to change settings with you or their phone so that the Message Waiting Indicator would work and the time would be set correctly on their phones. I assume we will be able to work that out if I have the same problems.
    A: This is an uncommon issue, but we can certainly help you configure your phone settings if we are able to should it become necessary.
  5. 911: Q1. 911 identification: I've read that although using it for 911 calls is not recommended, it may be possible if you agree to transmit my home phone number and location when I make a 911 call, which I guess is part of E911, or even figure out what local emergency service to connect to. Is there documentation about that? I recently needed to call 911, and they asked for my phone number and address even though I'm still on old-style phone service, so I imagine that would be the same even with E911. Your E911 page seems to be saying that if I get your Gigabit service, it will have E911.
    Q2. 911 routing: If I call 911, where is the call routed if I don't have E911? What if I do have E911?
    A (answer to both): All of our VOIP phone services are connected with an E911 service, and should be able to send your contact info if you dial 911. It will be routed to your local police department as determined by your zip code.
  6. Call from anywhere: I've read that it should be possible to make a VOIP call from anywhere in the world if you can connect to the Internet and have the right phone, or maybe just a headset for your computer.
    A: You can use a program called Accession to access our VOIP phone service if you have internet access. This can be downloaded on PC, Mac, and mobile devices. It must be enabled on your account (for free) to work.
  7. Quality: I'm particularly concerned that the quality of VOIP calls apparently depends on many variables that can not be predicted and may even be worse than plain old analog service. I'm so concerned that I'm considering waiting until some of my neighbors are using Sonic gigabit and seeing what quality they get.
    A: I've not heard of anyone having any issues with our gigabit phone service that weren't hardware related. It should be relatively crystal clear, and hum or static free.

Sept. 2020: Other speeds

In September, 2020, while we wait for gigabit fiber, Sonic advertised two other products at slower speeds. One of them (Fusion IP Broadband Fiber, also known as IPBB-F and FTTH (Fiber to the Home)) is not available yet in my neighborhood because we don't have fiber. The other (Fusion IP Broadband Copper, also known as IPBB-C and FTTN), is available here now, so I asked them some questions about it. For more explanation of these answers, see the Gigabit section above.

Feb. 11, 2021: lmi.net, and more Q&A

On February, 11, 2021, lmi.net distributed flyers to some customers on our street saying they were installing gigabit fiber and inviting people to pre-order. They said they may have it in place in Q2 of this year. A little research seems to indicate that their fiber and Sonic's fiber will have the same features at the same price, although I did not find out whether lmi also offers spam call blocking, low-cost web hosting with new domain name, and fax-to-email service. I called Sonic with some questions:

Starting Feb. 22, 2021: Sonic coming to Oakland Real Soon Now