Given a choice between settling for pathetically slow internet speeds from AT&T or paying Comcast $50,000 to expand to his rural home, Michigan resident Jared Mauch chose option "C": starting up his own fiber internet service provider. Now, he's expanding his service from about 70 customers to nearly 600 thanks to funding aimed at expanding access to broadband internet, Ars Technica has reported.
Last year, the US government's Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds allocated $71 million to Michigan's Washtenaw county for infrastructure projects, with a part of that dedicated to broadband expansion. Mauch subsequently won a bid to wire up households "known to be unserved or underserved based on [an] existing survey," according to the RFP.
"They had this gap-filling RFP, and in my own wild stupidity or brilliance, I'm not sure which yet, I bid on the whole project [in my area] and managed to win through that competitive bidding process," he told Ars.
He'll now need to expand from 14 to about 52 miles of fiber to complete the project, including at least a couple of homes that require a half mile of fiber for a single house. That'll cost $30,000 for each of those homes, but his installation fees are typically $199.
Customers can choose from 100Mbps up/down internet speeds for $55 per month, or 1Gbps with unlimited data for $79 a month. The contract requires completion by 2026, but he aims to be done by around the end of 2023. He's already hooked up some of the required addresses, issuing a press release after the first was connected in June, with a local commissioner calling it "a transformational moment for our community."
Running an ISP isn't even Mauch's day job, as he normally works as an Akamai network architect. Still, his service has become a must in the region and he even provides fiber backhaul for a major mobile carrier. "I'm definitely a lot more well-known by all my neighbors... I'm saved in people's cell phones as 'fiber cable guy,'" he said. Check out the full story at Ars Technica.