Page 1 of 2

Fantastic Fiber Installers

Posted: Tue May 14, 2019 2:13 pm
by Cliff Stoll
A gleeful shout out to Sonic's cable install crew:

David Cortez
John Aversa
Sandford (didn't catch his last name)

Over the top competent ... way friendly! Safe, happy, and capable crew. Please pass my high complements to these guys!

Backstory: 10 years ago, we dug up our driveway and figured, "what the heck - I'll bury a 1 1/4" conduit from our house to the telephone pole." The 1 1/4" conduit has laid fallow under the concrete and sidewalk for the past decade.

Well, today the Sonic field crew stopped by ... and oh, they did a terrific job pulling fiber down the pole, through the conduit, and up the skirting of our house. Neat job? You bet!

Many thanks!

-Cliff Stoll

Re: Fantastic Fiber Installers

Posted: Tue May 14, 2019 4:18 pm
by dane
Thanks for the kind feedback. We've got over 100 staff in our installation team today, and they're doing some amazing work to complete installations after we engineer, build and activate the fiber to the home network. I love seeing the comments - lots of folks have shared nice thoughts on Yelp too:

Long post - what to expect in a fiber installation

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 4:29 pm
by Cliff Stoll
Yesterday, Sonic installed Gigabit Fiber to our home on Colby Street. Summary: it works great!

Here's a few details on what happened here in Rockridge/Oakland, from a happy Sonic customer. I'll try to keep this not-too-technical:

- First, Bronco Communications pulls the mainline fiber from pole to pole. Their cherry-pickers came to our block around March 15th.

- About 2 months later, we received email from Sonic, asking to set an appointment for the installation. This is a 4-hour window during business hours.

- The day before the appointment Sonic's field crew began installing optical fiber from the pole to our house. This means a cherry-picker in the street, and a ladder against the house. You don't have to be home for this. (our home was connected by under-sidewalk conduit, so the 3-person crew didn't need a ladder)

= The day before the appointment: Sonic texts you several times to make sure you'll be there. They can't do the install without you.

- The time of the appointment: a Sonic installer visits and explains things, and asks where you'd like the terminal to be, and where the wiring should go.

During the installation, you'll meet 2 interesting little boxes, 2 fiber optic lines, an ethernet cable, a phone cable, and a wall-wart power supply:

= The first fiber-optic line goes the telephone pole to the side of your house. (it's not a wire - no copper and no electricity). It's a fairly stiff black line that's about a quarter inch across. It looks like the zip cord wire coming from a lamp, but it's much stiffer, and again, has no electricity or copper.

= Somewhere on the outside skirt of your house, near where the phone lines enter, will be the Fiber Optic Transition Box - A grey box, about 5 inches square and 1 inch deep. This connects the fiber from the pole to a more flexible fiber optic "jumper line"

= The fiber optic "jumper line" will go from the Transition Box on the outside skirt of your house, through a small hole through the side of the house, and into the inside of your house. This jumper line can be anywhere from a few feet to sixty feet long.

= The far end of the fiber optic "jumper line" goes to the Optical Network Termination (the ONT box). It's little - perhaps 3 inches square and an inch deep. This ONT box will live somewhere in your house - the baseboard of your living room, wall of your bedroom, in the closet, crawlspace, etc.

The ONT box inside your home converts the jumper line's laser light into two electric signals: The first signal is ethernet for your router or computer. The second signal is a phone line. So that ONT box has an ethernet port "RJ-45" connector, and the familiar telephone port, "RJ-11". Four green LEDs blink from the top.

That ONT box also has a place for the fiber-optic jumper line to enter (the installer does that), as well as a little socket for electric power from a wall-wart. The wall-wart to ONT wire is about 4 feet long, so the ONT box must be placed somewhere near a power outlet.

You need to decide:

- Where to put the Optical Network Termination - most likely, you'll put it near your router or computer, since there's power there.
- Where to put the fiber optic Transition box. This isn't very important, since it can be a long distance from the ONT. Most likely, it'll go on the skirt of your house, near where your phone line now enters.
- You'll also decide whether to buy a battery backup for the ONT (since your home phone will go through this box, the phone won't work when there's a blackout. On the other hand, your cellphone should work during a blackout, so a battery may not be necessary for you.

Near the end, the installer will check that the phone line is properly connected and properly registered with the emergency 911 system (associating my phone number with my address).

After the installation, the installer checked the speed of the line. Running speedtest on my iMac gives 960 Megabits per second. Yikes - that's amazingly fast! Alas, the old routers in my home limited this speed.

Several notes:

The fiber optic lines can't bend very sharply, and shouldn't be moved after installation. In the middle of the line is a really thin strand of glass - it'll break if stretched, yanked, or bent around a corner. This means that the ONT box should be firmly attached to the wall or baseboard. The ONT box can't be left loose on a table or waggling under a carpet.

I had run Cat-6 ethernet cables under my house, so we installed the ONT to a joist in the crawlspace. My router lives right next to it. Oh -- this is one of those times when you'll want Cat-5E or Cat-6 cabling.

My old router throttles Sonic's speedy service down to only 15 Megabits per second. I'll be replacing it with a gigabit router..

Unlike our old Sonic Fusion DSL, Sonic's gigabit service is not static IP address. This means that the numeric IP address of my service will change occasionally. That's no problem at all, but my house-router had be to be set for "dynamic IP address" not "static address" I spent a while figuring that out - a call to Sonic support put me on the right track. Oh - use DNS servers and (same as for Fusion DSL)

Oh: you automatically get a phone line (VOIP for the cognoscenti); this adds $10 a month plus the usual outrageous taxes. You can't get fiber service without a phone line (don't ask me why…)

In changing from Sonic DSL to Fiber, the phone line changed over when the installation was finished. The house went for 30 minutes without Internet service.

The Sonic installer can't be inside your house when you're not there (he had to leave when I went on an errand!). All the same, the field crew & installer were terrific - absolutely competent and very friendly.

Speaking of which -- my compliments to Sonic installer Ryan Sayler!

Are we happy? You betcha! Serious thanks to everyone at Sonic!

Re: Fantastic Fiber Installers

Posted: Thu May 16, 2019 6:28 pm
by ds_sonic_asif
Thank you for the detailed installation write-up. That helps me know that I can reasonably ask to have the ONT put in my "machine room", as long as I make it easy for the installers to securely run the jumper line.

Re: Fantastic Fiber Installers

Posted: Tue May 21, 2019 11:08 pm
by rganapathi
wait, are you "the" Cliff Stoll who wrote "The Cuckoo's Egg" back in '89?
That book was *such* a rollicking read, I loved it!

And for years I would tell my friends about how you (if it indeed was you) figured out the security hole in GNU Emacs' 'movemail' function.

Folks - if you haven't read Dr. Stoll's book, I would urge you to go read it immediately ; I guarantee you won't be able to put it down.

Thank you so much for sharing the fiber installation story Dr. Stoll!

Re: Fantastic Fiber Installers

Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 10:06 pm
by willtull
Glad to hear the Sonic teams are doing well.

Re: Fantastic Fiber Installers

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:00 pm
by Cliff Stoll
Yep, same guy. Tree decades later!

Re: Fantastic Fiber Installers

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 9:05 am
by ChrisW
rganapathi wrote:
wait, are you "the" Cliff Stoll who wrote "The Cuckoo's Egg" back in '89?
That book was *such* a rollicking read, I loved it!

And for years I would tell my friends about how you (if it indeed was you) figured out the security hole in GNU Emacs' 'movemail' function.

Folks - if you haven't read Dr. Stoll's book, I would urge you to go read it immediately ; I guarantee you won't be able to put it down.

Thank you so much for sharing the fiber installation story Dr. Stoll!

Myself, I prefer to think of him as Cliff Stoll, purveyor of quality Klein bottles.

That said, I second the endorsement of The Cucoo’s Egg.. Not only is it a great read, with lots of local color (especially for those of us with LBL connections) but it’s an insider’s account of what may be the very first case of Internet spying.

Re: Fantastic Fiber Installers

Posted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:17 pm
by Naif94702
terrific orientation summary, thanks. having thought this over, i need further advice from somebody who knows better than i. based on what i see here, i could have the optical jumper brought into the crawlspace, where there is electrical power, and then run Cat 5e cable under and up thru the floor to my router somewhere in the middle of the house.
or, i could have the Transition Box mounted higher on the house, and have the jumper brought into the attic, where there is also house-power, and then run the Cat5e cable to my router which i might consider mounting on the underside of the ceiling, since some authorities claim the WiFi signal is slightly better when the transmitter is well above floor level.
the attic is one story above ground, and easily entered thru a large skylight which i can open for the installers.
any advice on this choice?
i *was* thinking of asking for a 30' long fiber jumper so i could move the ONT around different parts of the crawlspace &/or attic, *until* i read Cliff's observation that once installed, the fiber shouldn't be moved. so i guess that's not an option.

Re: Fantastic Fiber Installers

Posted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:45 am
by dane
One item to consider: because the ONT is a powered device, you'll want to be able to easily access it, for example to check the status LEDs or to reboot it if necessary.

Best bet is to plan to meet with your installer to walk through the options, they can go over with you what is optimal and feasible.