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High speed internet coming to Petaluma office park


Santa Rosa-based internet provider Sonic is bringing fiber-optic service to a Petaluma business park, a project touted as a way to attract new companies and bolster access to speedy connectivity for area businesses.

After identifying the South McDowell Boulevard business park as an “underserved” area, Sonic has been in talks with officials and business owners for months about a build out, with permits and plans recently garnering the city’s stamp of approval, Sonic’s director of enterprise sales and strategy Mark Loher said. Sonic will begin installation in about three weeks, giving the 258 businesses in the park access to download speeds of 1 gigabit per second, which is about 1,000 times faster than speeds offered by the T1 lines commonly used by those businesses, Loher said.

“The future of the internet is fiber internet connectivity,” Loher said.

Loher said road closures aren’t anticipated as part of the six-month project in the business park that abuts Shollenberger Park. He declined to disclose costs.

Though AT&T and Comcast provide limited fiber internet connectivity in the area, Loher said Sonic’s service will provide faster connections at a lower price point. Sonic will also be the first to bring access to fiber service in the entire park, according to Ingrid Alverde, the city’s economic development manager.

Alverde said the city has been working to bring faster connectivity to business parks since 2011. Real estate agents had indicated that the lack of internet options has been a hindrance in attracting new tenants, she said.

“This is a huge success for the city,” she said.

The service will also be a boon for existing businesses in the park, which is home to organizations such as Ygrene and Camelback. In past years, it’s been difficult for smaller businesses to foot the bill for bringing in a fiber connection specifically to their buildings, she said.

“The one thing that really stands out is that this is really going to help smaller businesses that need the connectivity but weren’t able to accomplish that on their own,” she said.

The service will be beneficial for clean energy provider Simply Solar, which employs 30 people at its Cypress Drive business and currently uses Comcast’s broadband connection, according to CTO Sean Green.

“Sonic has really reliable service because it’s fiber,” Green said. “Pretty much our entire administrative operation runs online, so having a robust network that does things quickly can only increase productivity.”

Loher said about 30 clients in the South McDowell Boulevard business park have signed on to use the service, including Simply Solar. The fiber connection will be the second in Petaluma for Sonic, as a project off North McDowell Boulevard and the Redwood business park wrapped up last year, he said. At least 20 businesses in the North McDowell Boulevard business park are currently using that fiber network, he said.

Alverde said the project will round out the connectivity options for businesses in the city.

“That was the missing part, the southern part of the city … downtown is already well serviced,” she said.

Cy Curran, chairman of Petaluma’s Technology Advisory Committee, praised the project and its implications for the business community. He said fiber internet connectivity will continue to be in high demand, both in the business world and for personal use.

“The next step in this has to be fiber to the homes,” he said.

(Contact Hannah Beausang at hannah.beausang@arguscourier.com.)