Given the option to start his own fiber internet service rather than settling for excruciatingly slow AT&T Internet connections or spending $50,000 on Comcast to improve his remote home, Jared Mauch selected Option "C": He decided to start his own fiber internet firm. Now he's increasing his service from around 70 customers to more than 600 thanks to money put towards expanding broadband internet accessibility.
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 portion of that money earmarked for broadband development. According to the RFP, Mauch won a contract to outfit households "known to be unserved or underserved" based on an existing survey.
"They'd done this other RFP, and in my own incredible stupidity or genius, I'm not sure which yet, I submitted a bid on the whole project [in my area] and won through that competitive bidding procedure," he explained. He'll now need to extend fiber from 14 to around 52 miles in order to complete the work; at least a few homes will require half a mile of fiber for each residence. Each of those houses will cost $30,000 for installation fees, but his fee ranges typically run $199.
Customers can acquire 100Mbps up/down internet connections for $55 a month or 1Gbps with no data caps for $79 a month. The contract must be completed by 2026, but he plans to be done by the end of this year. He's already connected some of the necessary addresses, issuing a press release after the first was linked in June, when a local commissioner called it "a historic moment for our community."
Mauch runs an ISP as a side business; he's worked as an Akamai network architect on other projects. His service, nevertheless, has grown in popularity and he now offers fiber backhaul for a major mobile operator. "I'm definitely more well-known by my neighbors... I'm listed in people's phones as 'fiber cable guy,' " he remarked.