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.
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 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 (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!