Netflix groupies and hardcore gamers living in west Petaluma should be happy.
Regional internet and phone service provider Sonic said Thursday it would be installing fiber-optic cable within residential areas on the city’s west side as part of a major expansion of its speedy broadband service across Northern California in 19 different neighborhoods. The gigabit fiber internet service is 20 times faster than the average download speed in America and starts at $40 a month.
The expansion will reach 8,697 homes in the city, about a third of the population, said Dane Jasper, chief executive and co-founder. Those who want to check if they live in the area where the fast internet service is available can look on the company’s website.
As part of the effort, the Santa Rosa company hopes to grow its subscriber base by 50 percent over the next two years to more than 150,000 customers. It is the biggest expansion in the company’s 25 year history, Jasper said.
The company — known for its reasonable prices and strong commitment to customer privacy — also has been hiring, adding more than 180 employees in the past year. Overall, it employs about 500 people.
In recent years, Sonic had been focusing on expanding its fiber-optic residential high-speed internet service in San Francisco and certain areas in the East Bay — neighborhoods with a large population to make it a more cost-effective effort.
Yet many North Bay residents have asked Jasper when Sonic would come to their neighborhood with its fastest internet service, especially since a portion of Sebastopol was the first pilot for the company’s fiber-optic effort in 2011.
Petaluma offered the perfect opportunity to go into residential neighborhoods with its speedy internet as the company has been adding customers there for years. Sonic first concentrated on business parks along McDowell Boulevard and providing service to those along the SMART rail corridor. It later added the Old Adobe Union School District as a customer, Jasper said.
Sonic now will concentrate on west Petaluma because it can install those fiber-optic lines via utility poles rather than digging trenches to lay cables underground, making it much more affordable to provide the service. Comcast and AT&T also sell internet service in the city.
“Petaluma has been a really great example of Sonic putting together all of the components that have led fiber home deployment,” Jasper said.
Sonic will be looking to other cities in the future to expand its faster internet service where it already has a presence and where local officials are receptive. The most appealing cities have a policy requiring the laying of broadband cables as part of certain road projects.
“Each of these things build upon themselves,” Jasper said.
For example, the city of Brentwood, Jasper said, had such a strong policy that allowed Sonic to reach 11,000 potential customers for fiber-optic service.
You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or email@example.com.
This story originally appeared on PressDemocrat.com, also part of the Sonoma Media Investments news network.