Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Why Tech Geeks Adore Sonic.net

The Bay Area ISP aims to take its cheap, fast service to new markets
Why Tech Geeks Adore Sonic.net
Illustration by Erik T. Johnson

Dane Jasper reaches between the seats of his Tesla and pulls out an AT&T mailer offering broadband service for $20 a month. “Turn it over and look at the fine print,” he says. The $20 price is a one-year teaser rate. A $99 installation fee may apply. A $180 early termination fee definitely will. AT&T caps the plan at 250 gigabytes of data per month, and it doesn’t run faster than 0.8 megabits per second, less than one-fourth as fast as the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of broadband.

For AT&T, Jasper’s a long shot. He’s the chief executive officer of Sonic.net, an Internet service provider based in Sonoma County, Calif., that competes with AT&T in the San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles metropolitan areas. It plans to expand further, using gigabits-per-second fiber-optic cable where possible. A quiet, local player for most of its two decades, Sonic has built up a bit of a halo lately as the good ISP, a purveyor of cheap, fast connectivity that caters to tech geeks, is friendly with Google and Netflix, and fought a government court order demanding data on a customer who supported WikiLeaks. “Dane’s a geek,” says privacy researcher and activist Christopher Soghoian. “He’s one of us.”