A Michigan man unable to get good internet service through the likes of Comcast and AT&T has taken matters into his own hands — and gained hundreds of new customers in the process.
Jared Mauch had built his own fiber-to-the-home internet provider service (ISP) that now serves around 70 customers — with another 600 homes in the pipeline thanks to $2.6 million in government money, Ars Technica reports.
Mauch’s ISP — Washtenaw Fiber Properties LLC — got the government cash as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a federal law that provided COVID-19 recovery funds for state and local governments.
The federal government gave $71 million to Washtenaw County — where Mauch lives — for infrastructure improvement. A slice of that funding was earmarked for broadband service.
County officials began seeking contractors to use the broadband funds, which were intended to help unserved and underserved households.
Mauch says that “in my own wild stupidity or brilliance, I’m not sure which yet, I bid on the whole project.” He won.
According to Ars Technica:
“Under the contract terms, Mauch will provide 100Mbps symmetrical Internet with unlimited data for $55 a month and 1Gbps with unlimited data for $79 a month. Mauch said his installation fees are typically $199. Unlike many larger ISPs, Mauch provides simple bills that contain a single line item for Internet service and no extra fees.”
The ISP also participates in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program. That means households that meet income eligibility requirements can get subsidies of $30 a month toward their service.
Mauch began building his own network five years ago, after Comcast told him he would need to pay $50,000 to have a cable network extended to his house. AT&T only offers digital subscriber line (DSL) internet service to his home with download speeds of 1.5Mbps.
Currently, Mauch’s network has 14 miles of fiber. Once the project is completed, he will have added another 38 miles.
As Mauch told Ars Technica:
“I’m definitely a lot more well-known by all my neighbors … I’m saved in people’s cell phones as ‘fiber cable guy.’ The world around me has gotten a lot smaller, I’ve gotten to know a lot more people.”