From the street in the town of Sebastopol, Calif., only one thing hints that a house there has among the fastest residential broadband sold in America: an extra wire off the telephone pole, notably thinner than the adjacent electric, telephone and cable-TV wires.
That fiber-optic cable provides on block in Sonoma County with downloads at up to one billion bits per second, or 1 Gbps. This service from Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Sonic.net will be available to the rest of Sebastopol and, later this year, the Sunset District of San Francisco. It only costs $69.95 a month. And its slower 100-million-bits-per-second service (still over six times quicker than my Verizon Fios connection) costs a mere $39.95 a month.
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At that price, anyone can sign up, not just hard-core techies who are used to paying a lot of dough for faster-than-50-Mbps services. I wrote about Sonic's service (and why something like it probably won't hit your street) in a feature for Ars Technica. In this piece for Discovery News, I'll talk about what it's actually like to have a connection that fast.