Moving to Chenery Street a couple of years ago, I found that available Internet technology was older than many of my neighbors. AT&T’s Internet service, phone-line DSL, was hopelessly slow. Comcast’s cable speeds were faster but streaming videos ran out of bandwidth on Saturday nights. Many in the neighborhood have despaired of the options, so I spent some time looking further afield.
Most recently, a new company called Sonic has been advertising fiber-optic Internet for Glen Park.
Sonic, a small company from Santa Rosa, has been deep in the installation process in Glen Park over the last year. Sonic trucks have been working their way down Chenery Street from Fairmount.
Sonic claims a download speeds of 1 gigabit per second. For comparison, AT&T offers 50 to 75 megabits. There is an AT&T 1 gigabit option, but it’s not available in Glen Park.
Comcast offers what it calls Xfinity Internet Blast! Pro, which is 200 megabits per second.
Though to clarify, Sonic service actually comes in two types and it’s important to know which you’ll have access to. Those who can get the company’s actual fiber cables coming into their house will get the ultra-fast speeds. Those who must rely on its DSL service get nothing spectacular, which the company is quick to acknowledge, and which is backed up by online reviews.
One complaint some people have had is that Sonic’s rate actually contains hidden charges. For an advertised $40 per month, the company delivers a high-speed Internet connection and basic telecom features. However, taxes and rental of a proprietary router can boost the monthly charge to $70. That bundle includes several email accounts, phone service and web hosting.
It’s not possible to only get Internet, you must buy the bundle.
What this doesn’t include is the type of TV and movie package provided by Comcast.
I’ve had Sonic now for a few months and thus far the speeds have been good and the service helpful. My take: it’s a good service for those who have found themselves frustrated by Comcast and AT&T. But only if you live where Sonic has fiber. To find that out, you’ve got to call them and give them your address and they’ll look you up. It’s block-by-block in Glen Park at this point, so an address is key.
The other option for those looking to ditch Comcast or AT&T is Monkeybrains.net. This SoMa -based company is building out a network of microwave relay stations placed on rooves which deliver Internet service. It’s currently installed on more than 1,000 buildings within the city.
The company guarantees at least 10 megabits per second but on average tends to report speeds closer to 25 to 30 megabits, a staffer told the Glen Park News. Customers must be within two kilometers of one of its antennas, which isn’t an issue in Glen Park but can be in other neighborhoods.
The limitations are that your house or apartment has to have an unobstructed line-of-sight view between one of Monkeybrain’s antennas. Trees, billboards, taller buildings, or one of San Francisco’s many hills can block the signal. The company can usually tell would-be customers right away whether it’s available where they live.
They’ve also got to be able to get up on your roof, install their antenna and run a wire from it down into your house. They do try for “a clean look” by running it along a pipe or something else, the company staffer said. They then drill a small hole to get the wire inside and then install a wireless router so that you have access throughout your house.
The residential service costs $35 per month, billed quarterly, with no contracts or hidden fees. They do not offer any type of phone or cable TV bundle, it’s all just Internet. The residential package is symmetric, meaning customers get equal bandwidth for download and upload. Most other companies offer faster download speeds than upload.
Contributing: Elizabeth Weise