Sonic Pushes Free Gigabit to California Schools
Sonic has expanded gigabit-speed service to several communities in Northern California, and will connect some local school districts to the ISP's gigabit network for free if the surrounding communities embrace the service.
The Santa Rosa, Calif.-based ISP Sonic.net Inc. is extending its gigabit offering to parts of the cities of Brentwood, Sebastopol, Novato and the Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco, according to Tara Sharp, Sonic's head of marketing.
Of those regions, Brentwood is the largest, passing 9,000 homes and several hundred businesses, she said. In Brentwood, Sonic is offering to provide gigabit connectivity to schools for free if it gets a 30% penetration rate.
"If we're building out gigabit fiber in a neighborhood and a certain number subscribe, we'll light up the schools for free," Sharp says. "It's a big issue for the schools -- a lot of them can't support students using the Internet at all. This will have a magnificent impact on those public schools."
Sonic uses fiber-to-the-home infrastructure from Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN) in its network, and charges $40/month for "unlimited, unthrottled gigabit," Sharp says -- well below the US average of around $70/month for gigabit connectivity.
"People really like us because we're the cheapest," she says. In addition to the low price, she says, Sonic has created a "Champions" group in Brentwood composed of people who volunteer to help get the word out, putting flyers under doormats and otherwise promoting the service by word-of-mouth. In an increasingly crowded gigabit services market, lowest price and unbreakable customer loyalty could be critical components to standing out from the pack.
"There's been an incredible groundswell," Sharp says. "It's almost like guerilla marketing."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading