Sonic vs Starry Internet

Sonic and Starry are both lesser-known alternatives to larger cable companies in California. Starry has the simplest pricing, but Sonic can be more compelling for power users. Sonic also has fiber to the home in some areas.

Brand Service type Speed range Price range Contact
Sonic DSL, Fiber 20–1,000 Mbps $39.99–69.99/mo. (888) 766-4233
Starry Fixed Wireless 200 Mbps $50 flat rate (888) 231-9403

Fees and fine print Compare plans

The biggest difference between Starry and Sonic is that Starry is fixed wireless, while Sonic provides a mix of DSL and Fiber internet services.

For Sonic, that means the top speed at your building might be 1,000 Mbps… or it might be 25 Mbps. So in order to do a true apple-to-apple comparison, you need to check your address at their site and make sure you understand the speed you’ll get.

Starry offers the same 200 Mbps plan everywhere. However, they only serve apartment buildings at this time. So if you’re in a single-family home or duplex/fourplex, Starry is unlikely to be willing to build service this early.

Sonic vs Starry Internet Basic Features

FeatureSonic InternetStarry Internet
Starting price$39.99/mo. sign-up price$50/mo. flat rate
Download speed range20–1,000 Mbps200 Mbps
Upload speed range1.5–1000 Mbps200 Mbps
Network typeDSL, FiberFixed Wireless
Contract termsContract required for cheapest priceContract-free

Keep in mind that in most of the areas where Sonic and Starry overlap, Sonic is selling xDSL internet over AT&T lines. This means that you might have a router with an AT&T logo on it, or have an AT&T installer show up to install the service. Once installed, you deal with Sonic customer service — which is a big part of the value of choosing it over AT&T in the first place, not to mention the lack of data caps.

Sonic vs Starry Data Usage Policies

Many internet providers in California use data caps to manage their network, meaning that if you use more than a certain amount of data, you will be charged extra on top of your monthly bill.

Sonic and Starry both focus heavily on their unlimited data policies in advertising, and Sonic has been doing good by this promise for decades. Both providers are a good option if your plan for TV service is “cord cutting” and streaming with Netflix rather than buying a traditional cable bundle.

Sonic does not have data caps in California. Starry offers unlimited plans with no data caps.

Sonic Internet Data Caps

Sonic offers internet plans with unlimited data

Starry Internet Data Caps

Starry offers internet plans with unlimited data

Sonic vs Starry Pricing and Fees

Here is a breakdown of how common add-on fees compare for Sonic and Starry plans. These types of fees are common with internet providers, and are important to consider when calculating the “actual cost” of your monthly bill as a new customer:

WiFi equipment fee~$9.50/mo.Free
Price increasesBill increases after promo periodFlat rate
Early Termination FeeFee to cancel contractFee to cancel contract

Note that fee amounts described above may vary by plan. See the plan comparison tables for Sonic and Starry below for more information.

Starry Internet vs Sonic Fiber internet.
Starry and Sonic are both well-liked internet alternatives in California. Sonic focuses on their fiber-to-the-home network, while Starry provides a flat-rate fixed wireless 5G service primarily to large apartment buildings.

Overall, Starry Internet gets strong marks for their fee-free service. Sonic has exceptional customer service, but in order to compete with the big telecoms they’ve wound up using many of the same strategies to make the entry price look lower than it actually is. So, don’t forget to factor in the WiFi fee, installation fee, and etc when choosing between them.

Sonic vs Starry Internet-Only Plan Comparison

Most Common Plan Internet speed Sign-up price Final price Avg price over 2 yrs
Fusion X1 (Sonic) 20 Mbps $39.99/mo. $49.99/mo. $44.99/mo.
Starry Internet (Starry Internet) 200 Mbps $50/mo. $50/mo. $50/mo.

The price of the Sonic Fusion X1 internet plan is $39.99/month for the first 12. As a result, the price will rise 25% to a “final price” of $49.99.

So, that means the average price you’ll pay over the first two years of service with is $44.99/month.

Remember that Fusion X1 includes the following fees when you compare pricing:

  • $9.50/month fee for WiFi equipment
  • Early termination fee if you break the contract

Starry Internet uses flat pricing for their entry-level Starry Internet plan. The $50 monthly cost does not rise over time.

Sonic DSL Internet Plans

For most of the Greater Los Angeles area, Sonic is only available for DSL service. The plan options are to either get basic xDSL service, or to “double the line” and to expand your bandwidth:

Plan NameDownload SpeedPromo PriceFinal Price
Fusion X120 Mbps$39.99/mo$49.99
Fusion X240 Mbps$59.99/mo$69.99

Sonic Fiber Internet Plans

Sonic is best known for their Fiber internet service, which is their own custom-built network in Northern California and the Bay Area. This service area offers up to gigabit speeds, and is known as one of the most affordable fiber to the home options in the US.

Plan NameDownload SpeedPromo PriceFinal Price
Fusion Fiber1000 Mbps$40/mo$50

Starry Internet Plans

Starry’s plans are very simple to understand, because there’s only one:

Plan NameDownload SpeedFinal Price
Starry Internet200 Mbps$50

This plan includes the WiFi router, and is a flat rate that never changes. This is a big part of Starry’s advertising, and how they differentiate from other internet companies, who almost all use sneaky fees to bring up the final price.

Sonic vs Starry Net Neutrality Policies

Starry and Sonic both make Net Neutrality support a major part of their branding and value proposition for customers. If your primary concern is privacy and Net Neutrality, Sonic is the company with the longest track record on the topic. Their CEO Dane Jasper is quite outspoken on both topics, and has put his money where his mouth is in terms of company policies like deleting customer data after only a few weeks (rather than logging endlessly as larger companies do).

Starry has a similar pro-consumer stance on both topics. However, as a very new company, this stance is less proven.

Sonic Internet Net Neutrality Stance

Sonic is one of the loudest pro-Net-Neutrality voices among US internet providers. The company has actively taken steps to protect user privacy and preserve Net Neutrality.

Sonic Net Neutrality statement
Starry Internet Net Neutrality Stance

Starry Internet maintains a detailed page on their website describing their traffic treatment in regards to Net Neutrality.

Starry Net Neutrality statement
Page Summary
  • Starry Internet provides fixed wireless internet service to apartment buildings.
  • Sonic provides a mix of DSL and Fiber internet in both north and south California.
  • Starry Internet is a brand new option in California, only launching in LA in 2018. Sonic, by contrast, has been operating since the early 90s.

Jameson Zimmer
Broadband Market Analyst
Author Bio →

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Last Update: February 06, 2021
Published: July 01, 2020
CC BY-ND 4.0

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