My name is Dane Jasper (/u/danejasper), and I co-founded Sonic in 1994, at a time when the “World Wide Web” was brand new, Linux had just been invented and avoiding dialup busy signals was the main customer issue. Today, Sonic is the largest independent ISP in Northern California. As a 20-year industry veteran, I've seen a lot of change, but I remain committed to the concept of alternative competitive broadband access services, which is why I’m fighting for net neutrality today.

Sonic firmly believes that internet providers should NOT be able to charge content creators -- like Netflix or CNET -- more money to stream their service, or have the ability to block others entirely. The internet should remain open and equal for all.

I’ll be sticking around to answer your questions on net neutrality and what’s at stake for you and everyone else who uses and loves the internet, amid the FCC’s plans to roll back current net neutrality regulations. Ask away!

Proof: https://i.redd.it/25jzwv38c19z.jpg

Comments: 109 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

uzi17 karma

Hi Dane, thanks for doing this.

What kind of pressure have you felt (say from competitors, from corporations/content providers, or from government) to abandon Net Neutrality?

(Unrelated, but I hope to be a Sonic customer someday ... if/when fiber comes to my town of Moraga.)

Danejasper20 karma

Clearly most large carriers have been against net neutrality, and Title II in particular, as well as against any regulations around consumer privacy. Sonic bucks this trend, but there's no pressure anyone can put on us, we have an independent viewpoint and are able to express it to regulators, legislators and the public. We do this, widely, signing on to support letters from industry coalitions, speaking with the FCC, federal and state legislators, and asking our members to get involved too.

themagpieswarble14 karma

Can you please come to Seattle to offer us an alternative to Comcast?

Danejasper19 karma

We are expanding very quickly, but are not yet outside of California. Please tell your CA friends, because more Sonic members == bigger, further reaching Sonic!

4stringking11 karma

At lot of the larger ISPs are fighting against neutrality. As a favorite ISP, it might seem surprising that you're not fighting with them, so it's really encouraging to see this AMA!

I'll ask the biggie: why is net neutrality important for you as an ISP?

(Also, as a non-US citizen is there a way to make my voice heard in a useful way?)

Danejasper15 karma

Clearly, Sonic is in the minority when it comes to our position and advocacy around topics like neutrality, privacy, and competitive policy. We're the good guys.

As for why it's important, there are two primary points:

1) A better internet is a healthy internet, and our success is thanks to all the wonderful innovation out there on the net that you want access to. We sell subscriptions to the internet. You love the internet, and we are just the conduit to get there. (And we won't sell out on items like neutrality or privacy, that would violate both our members and the internet as a whole.)

2) Competitive outcomes of policy. While we can protect our customers on privacy, and we can run a neutral network, if our industry peers are permitted to exploit consumers and online sites and apps, the money they make on that may tilt the playing field. In other words, if Cable can get $5 for selling your browsing history, and $5 for slowing down your gaming and video, while we do not, we might find it challenging to compete on price. Result: current monopoly is entrenched. They need to be disrupted!

(As a non-US citizen, I'm not sure how you'll have a real voice in US policy. But do support the organizations that align with your policy feelings, like the EFF, and spread the word about Sonic.)

SashaWoodson9 karma

What exactly is ocean water?

Danejasper23 karma

It's the salty kind. Which might be due to the fish pee. Or not.

bdnicholson7 karma

What're you currently doing to make it right?

Danejasper4 karma

First, advocating for positive policy positions, on key issues including privacy, and net neutrality. As a carrier, we've got a unique role in this. But even more critically, we are continuing to build competitive access network coverage, allowing more consumers another choice of access, but also putting pressure on incumbent providers, who may improve their policies if consumers flee for a better ISP!

TheJeck6 karma

As someone from outside the US, why does this matter to me?

Danejasper18 karma

Because if US carriers can charge sites for usage, speed and latency, you're likely to see less innovative new applications and services on the internet. In other words, the next Netflix might not happen, or might cost twice the price due to the toll they'd be paying. (Do you think Cable companies LIKE the fact that consumers are not cutting the cord in record numbers, switching to over the top services like Hulu, SlingTV and YouTube?) And this isn't just streaming video: any site, service, peer-to-peer application or IOT device that uses a lot of bandwidth or has a need for low latency could be affected. That means gaming, VR and augmented reality, or something new we haven't even seen yet.

The other important note, for those in the US: in a non-neutral internet world, if you're going to sell a fast lane, you have to put everything else into the slow lane first. Increase latency a bit, so Playstation and Xbox networks have to buy lower latency. Cap monthly usage, so that streaming video sites have to pay for more. Think of it this way: If you're Big Cable, and you've got a near-monopoly nationally on high-speed access, why wouldn't you find every way to extract fees from consumers and websites and applications, all while limiting the spending on upgrades to the network to the absolute minimum?

jcruzyall6 karma

How did Sonic manage to stick around and remain independent while nearly every other local ISP (they were all small and local at the start) folded, was purchased, or just gave up? Is it still very hard to do business in most markets due to the incumbents, and is there anything we can do to bring more independents back into the business?

Danejasper11 karma

I don't know why most ISPs failed. Clearly, we are still here, so it is possible to compete and to thrive. And while there are fewer, there are remaining competitive providers (see Socket.net, Gorge.net, Cruzio.com, MonkeyBrains.net, etc) as well as new upstarts like Ting and Google Fiber. Don't give up on competitive alternatives, but instead find and subscribe to one, and tell others to do the same!

Chtorrr5 karma

What is the very best cheese?

Danejasper10 karma

Gruyère.

SexyPeter4 karma

Heya Dane - thanks for doing this!

My question is what can I - and other teenagers like myself who value the internet as it is - do on a local level, to ensure the battle for net neutrality is fought and eventually won?

Danejasper8 karma

Today this issue rests with the FCC, where three Commissioners will decide whether to reverse the Title II categorization of broadband internet access or not. Key in this is Chairman Ajit Pai, who has most of the control over the outcome of this. Hopefully he will listen to the public, rather than large Cable and Telco carriers! Voice your opposition at https://www.battleforthenet.com/

AskAboutMyDumbSite3 karma

Hi Dane,

Consistent uptime and bandwidth are the most important thing to your customers. How do you balance profit and delivering a good product, and has the thought of abusing your bandwitdh for profit ever been brought up in your boardroom?

Danejasper10 karma

We've been pitched a number of schemes that would "monetize" our member's internet usage. Ad swapping, DNS error redirection, etc. But no, none of those pitches have ever been seriously considered, because they're wrong.

See also: https://corp.sonic.net/ceo/2011/08/11/the-five-levels-of-isp-evil/

ericchen3 karma

Don't you guys use AT&T's network? How come AT&T can offer gigabit internet but you only go up to 50mbps?

Danejasper9 karma

Sonic Fusion service is unlimited internet and phone, delivered in 125 CA cities via three platforms:

Fusion Fiber - gigabit (1000Mbps) service, on our own fiber. This is the new hotness, and what you want, but the availability is limited to parts of three cities today.

Fusion xDSL - VDSL2 or ADSL2+ service, on our own equipment located in your local Central Office (telephone exchange) building. All our network, but over leased copper, providing speeds from 5Mbps to 100Mbps, depending upon distance.

Fusion FTTN - fiber-to-the-node using AT&T's neighborhood fiber-fed cabinet network, which as you note allows a maximum of 50Mbps for our members. That is limited by the commercial terms we can get at this point, but we're continuing to push for faster speeds. (Advantage though over ATT's direct offering: no monthly usage cap or overage charges!)

To find out which of the three products and speeds are available at your location, input your address on the http://Sonic.com website.

All of the products also include a home phone line, with unlimited nationwide calling, voice features like enhanced 911, caller ID and voicemail, and unlimited calling to fixed line numbers in over sixty countries around the world. It's like getting a "World" phone plan, thrown in!

Stealthdragon23 karma

Hi Diane, How many upvotes for a year of free tater tots?

Danejasper15 karma

All of them.

Mc_Gibblets2 karma

Are there any plans to expand gigabit to San Mateo? I was following updates while living in the Sunset but have since moved south. While we do have options like Wave G, they have not been as candid or transparent regarding net neutrality and other topics as Sonic.

Danejasper9 karma

Sonic is expanding our gigabit fiber service as rapidly as we can, but for competitive reasons we no longer provide advance information about planned markets. But you can support our expansion by being a member on our copper of fiber-to-the-node services, or by spreading the word about Sonic to others. More members == more fiber!

PM_ME_UR_DIVIDENDS2 karma

Hope it's not too late or someone else can answer.

I have a few concerns with net neutrality but the biggest one probably has to do with service providers not being able to bill netflix/cnet/other more for streaming their services.

I 100% whole heatedly agree that ISP's should not be able to charge companies more simply because those companies are competition to said ISP... but I've read that at absolute peak times Netflix has used up to 40% of the countries bandwidth (at that time). Obviously this isn't all of the time.

So my question is this... if a company like Netflix/Hulu/OnLive (games) or any HD Streaming service is able to use that much bandwidth, there has to be an infrastructure cost associated with that increased amount of bandwidth use, and that increased infrastructure cost has to be paid for by someone and since they cannot charge the companies that are profiting from this infrastructure the cost will be covered by the consumer (it sure as shit isn't coming from profits, unless it has to). So in this situation, why is it not okay to charge the company who is using your services (to the extent that it's almost like they're renting hardware) more based on said usage?

Danejasper8 karma

The company isn't using the bandwidth, you are! You are the one requesting the content, over the connection you have already paid for. And you paid for XMbps, so why can't you use it the way you want to?

Make sense?

coryrenton2 karma

since some of your services still uses AT&T lines (which I guess they must be bound by law to allow you to lease), what's the most anti-competitive thing you've seen them do within those restrictions?

Danejasper3 karma

I won't speak regarding AT&T specifically, but incumbent carriers in general often have sold wholesale access at above the retail rate, with more restrictive terms, and sometimes slower installation or disconnection processes.

(The solution: build more fiber ourselves!)

standish_2 karma

Do you agree that ISPs should be classified as common carriers?

Also, how much do I have to bribe you to get the fiber installation trucks to skip directly to me?

Danejasper5 karma

Yes, in the absence of effective competitive pressure that would keep bad behaviors in check, I believe ISPs should remain regulated on key issues like privacy and neutrality.

We are building as fast as we can, but it'll go more rapidly if we have more members. So rather than bribe me to send those trucks to you, bribe your friends to switch to Sonic and support our mission! =)

ShakataGaNai2 karma

Recently Google Fiber bowed out of laying more fiber after their purchase of WebPass. They said they'd go with the wireless options but not much has been heard from them.

In the mean time Sonic has still going strong on fiber. Has Google's change away from landlines changed your options at all? Is Sonic considering the wireless options as well?

Danejasper9 karma

We continue to have a positive outlook about the fiber to the home business. And while wireless is headed toward some interesting things (mmWave, CBRS, massive-MIMO, etc), we don't believe it is yet a viable solution for single-family-dwellings.

NardKore1 karma

Dane,

I strongly support net neutrality and really wish you'd hurry up and get fiber to my area of SF. But out of interest, how would you respond to Comcast and other providers arguments that they have no interest in throttling the internet and that instead this is just an attempt certain big internet companies (e.g. Netflix) to hoist costs on the service providers. I think this argument isn't totally invalid, but I also doubt Comcast really wants to stop there. Thoughts?

Danejasper8 karma

The idea of Netflix etc causing costs for carriers is specious. Consumers buy X Mbps and Y Gigabytes each month, and if they want to stream Netflix using that capacity, there should be no barrier to doing so. Interconnection between content and consumers is only logical, if you accept that consumers have paid for capacity and access. Trying to charge Netflix (etc) is double dipping!

(Our fiber reach in SF is growing quickly, thank you for switching when it arrives!)

coryrenton1 karma

what would be the difficulty in expanding sonic into offering wireless services as an MVNO?

Danejasper2 karma

The MVNO underlying carrier (VZ/ATT/Tmo/Sp) would set the terms, and we would have little opportunity for innovation beyond customer service and package design. (See: Ting. They are doing real well on those components, but we don't need Sonic to be another Ting.)

coryrenton1 karma

would setting up your own wireless networks be cost prohibitive? what are the more interesting ideas you've explored in this avenue but decided were not for you?

Danejasper3 karma

In the mobile space, national coverage is needed, and spectrum for LTE and 5g in every market. The US has four carriers, and today only DISH has the spectrum to contemplate a new national network. (But they won't build it themselves, IMHO.)

For residential 250Mbps to 1000Mbps speeds, wireless isn't yet viable at scale for single-family-dwellings. That's likely to evolve, with CBRS, mmWave and massive-MIMO all coming down the pipe, but today fiber is the better answer.

Exile_The_Fallen1 karma

Not sure if this has been asked before so here goes..if one service provider does this and limits the sites and all that, wouldn't their customers just leave and go to their competitor?

Danejasper3 karma

More than 50% of households in America have just a single "choice" for Internet access at 25Mbps or above. So where would they go?

ironman821 karma

what do you think of the situation in venezuela?

Danejasper6 karma

I think that Maduro should step aside. He has lost the confidence of the public, and should make way for new leadership.

mytavance1 karma

Do you have issues with sonic the fast food place??

Danejasper3 karma

Yes.

mytavance1 karma

Like, copyright issues

Danejasper5 karma

No, their copyright is related to food service, and ours is to Internet and telecommunications.

But being @sonic on Twitter, I can tell you that I loathe "$0.50 corn dog day"!

weatherjack_1 karma

What would be the best way as a consumer to find an alternative service such as yours in my area?

Danejasper2 karma

I'd suggest starting with the US broadband map, here: https://www.broadbandmap.gov/

But the tool hasn't been updated with new information since 2014, so speeds now available are likely to be higher, and there may be new carriers who are not listed due to the lack of updates. (Hopefully this FCC will take this issue up!)

Next, check FISPA http://www.fispa.org/where-we-are/ and WISPA http://www.wispa.org/Directories/Member-Directory for local providers in your region.

Finally, your state may also have broadband mapping, which may be up to date than the FCC system. California has theirs updated through 2015, it can be found here: http://www.broadbandmap.ca.gov/ For your state, google "state-name broadband map" for example.

InsiderSwords1 karma

Hi Dane,

Are you guys playing on increasing coverage in San Francisco?

Please, I can't stand Comcast.

Danejasper3 karma

Yep, expanding as quickly as possible.

xx3nvyxx0 karma

Hi Dane, I love what Sonic is doing as a small ISP sticking it to the big guys. Unfortunately most of your service areas (or at least the ones in Fremont) are still stuck with DSL with no option for fiber. Since DSL is about 20x slower than comparably priced services from AT&T and Comcast, the choice is clear from a consumer point of view. Just wanted to let you know I still look at your website every few months and sigh wistfully at the thought of someday getting rid of Comcast.

Since I have to have a question in r/IAmA: Do you have any solid plans for additional fiber service around the bay area?

Danejasper2 karma

Yes!

kajnbagoat0 karma

Thanks for doing this!!

Why do we humans try to make everything that's good into something worse like this net neutrality which would make Internet worse?

Danejasper6 karma

$$$.

Tich02-1 karma

After everything I've read on net neutrality why would anyone want it? What are the positives being portrayed by promoters of ending it?

Danejasper3 karma

Some carriers have promoted overturning network neutrality on the premise that they could then offer some applications "fast lanes". For a fee. That's innovation...in billing! Not really good for consumers.