Jared Mauch, the Michigan man who started a fiber-to-the-home Internet provider because he couldn’t get good broadband from AT&T or Comcast, is expanding with $2.6 million in public money. From the report: When we wrote about Mauch in January 2021, he was serving about 30 rural homes, including his own, with provider Washtenaw Fiber Properties. Mauch now has about 70 clients, and he will expand his network to nearly 600 more properties with funds from America’s Rescue Plan’s state and local budget fund, he told Ars in a phone interview in mid-July.
The US government has allocated $71 million to Washtenaw County for various infrastructure projects, and the county has dedicated a portion to broadband. The county conducted a pandemic broadband study to identify unserved locations, Mauch said. When the federal government money became available, the county issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking contractors to connect addresses “that are known to be unserved or underserved,” he said. “They had this fill-in-the-blank RFP, and through my wild stupidity or brilliance, I’m not sure yet that I bid on the whole project [in my area] and was able to win through a competitive bidding process,” he said. Mauch’s ISP is one of four selected by Washtenaw County to connect the various areas.
Mauch’s network currently has about 14 miles of fiber, and it will build another 38 miles to complete the government-funded project, he said. In this sparsely populated rural area, “I have at least two houses where I have to build half a mile to get to one,” Mauch said, noting that each of those houses would cost “over $30,000 to maintain.” The contract between Mauham and County was signed in May 2022 and calls for it to expand its network to approximately 417 addresses in the townships of Freedom, Lima, Lodi and Skia. Mauch lives in Scio, near Ann Arbor. Although the contract calls for servicing only those 417 locations, Mauch explained that his new fiber routes will carry 596 potential customers. “I’m building past some addresses that are covered by others [grant] programs, but I will most likely be the first to build in those areas,” he said. Under the terms of the contract, Mauch will provide symmetrical 100 Mbps Internet with unlimited data for $55 per month and 1 Gbps with unlimited data for $79 per month.