Internet access in Berkeley, California

Internet service is an essential part of our everyday lives, which means that it's important to choose your internet service provider (ISP) wisely.

Recommended: UnwiredLtd.com and Sonic.net

UnwiredLtd.com is a Berkeley-based WISP (wireless internet service provider) with an excellent track record for providing reliable, speedy, and customer-friendly service. They also provide service to San Francisco, Marin County, and most of Alameda County. I've used them since 2011 in a half-dozen locations (residential and business) with consistently great results. They are a small but effective, reliable, and friendly company.

Sonic.net is a Santa Rosa-based ISP and phone company with a very long track record for providing reliable and customer-friendly service. They're relatively big (more than 100 employees), but with a small-company pro-customer vibe. They're owned by their CEO Dane Jasper, a real human being who won't hesitate to engage constructively with you directly if need be. They provide service throughout California, but the speed depends on how far you are from the nearest telephone company building. Their phone service is fantastic – a real landline (which means it works even in a power outage), with ''unlimited'' (there's a limit, but it's something like 8 hours per day of constant usage) residential usage, tons of features included, and better call quality than ATT.

Other options: Webpass.net, Monkeybrains.net, and LMI.net

Webpass.net provides exceptionally fast internet service (100Mbps) for very low prices, in a reliable and customer-friendly manner. They achieve this by delivering service only to office buildings and residential buildings with 20 or more units, which means standalone houses are not eligible. If you can get service from Webpass, you'll probably be very happy with it.

Monkeybrains.net is a budget-priced wireless ISP in San Francisco with a very small but energetic staff and a nearly universally rabidly loyal customer base. They push the envelope in many ways, resulting in faster-than-average speeds at lower-than-average prices, with reliability that is better than ATT or Comcast but not as good as UnwiredLtd.com, Sonic.net, or Webpass.net. You could do a lot worse than Monkeybrains.net.

LMI.net is a long-standing local Berkeley ISP, and they're fine. I used them for a couple of months. They're nice people, and you can walk in to their office on MLK for a chat. They're better than ATT and Comcast, but not as good as UnwiredLtd.com and Sonic.net.

My home internet service: UnwiredLtd.com

At home we have the $50/mo ''Internet Standard'' plan from UnwiredLtd.com, which provides a consistent 6Mbps down and 3Mbps up. It's been quite reliable, with a grand total of 15 minutes of downtime in the last year. This is our primary home internet connection, and it serves us well. It's provided by a wireless radio which is clamped to a metal pole, which in turn is attached to the chimney. Unwired's installers do a great job – I've had them install gear at four office buildings (three of which run by a very particular property management firm with no tolerance for risk) and two residential settings, all with great results. The wireless radio points at a radio tower on the nearby ridgeline, so there aren't many things that are likely to interfere with or disrupt it. All of my Unwired roofmount wireless connections have stayed up without a hiccup through even the most severe storms.

Avoid: Comcast and AT&T

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the default choice for most people is unfortunately Comcast or ATT. For philosophical and ethical reasons, I will not do business with either company. Comcast and ATT actively work to harm the internet and democracy itself for their own short-term business interests, without even taking into account their own medium- and long-term business interests. They treat their employees badly, and they treat their customers even more badly. To top it off, their service is unreliable and expensive. Avoid them.

Choose wisely. 🙂


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