Santa Rosa-based Sonic races to restore local internet infrastructure

Sonic workers on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, install new aerial fiber-optic cable in Santa Rosa, replacing data lines damaged by the Tubbs fire. (James Dunn / North Bay Business Journal)


Days after fire wrecked buildings and infrastructure in large portions of the Fountaingrove business district in northeast Santa Rosa, rushed into neighborhoods to install fiber-optic cable that can handle gigabit broadband internet traffic.

Santa Rosa-based Sonic’s crews unrolled a huge reel of cable near Chanate Road just south of burned-out areas. The reel held more than 20,000 feet of cable — about four miles long. Workers were running redundant cable south to College Avenue for connections that would provide service to Fountaingrove business buildings.

“It will cross the freeway on College,” said Gabriel Tansey, construction superintendent for Sonic, then connect to the company’s headquarters in southwest Santa Rosa.

“We’re trying to get KZST up right now,” said Tansey on Oct. 13, four days after devastating flames passed through. The station had been broadcasting from another studio, he said.

“The fiber ran down Old Redwood Highway” from the north, said Tansey, who has worked for Sonic for about six years. New lines from the south, strung above ground from power poles, “will be a permanent solution,” he said, “all fiber-optic.” Some new connections will be underground.

Crews worked all weekend to restore service. Tansey had no early estimate of the replacement cost of burned lines and equipment. About 20 Sonic employees in six or seven teams were assigned to the recovery of infrastructure in burn areas.

James Dunn covers technology, biotech, law, the food industry, and banking and finance. Reach him at or 707-521-4257