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Nationwide ISP Side Hustle Receives $2.9M Expansion Grant

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Jared Mauch had to do it himself.

About five years ago, Mauch began building his own broadband Internet service as an afterthought to bring affordable, high-speed Internet to his own home and others nearby in rural Michigan, according to reporting from Ars Technica.

Now he has received $2.6 million in government funding to expand the project.

When Washtenaw County, Michigan was looking for contractors to expand Internet access to underserved areas, Mauch submitted an offer and won, along with three others. The grant comes from the American Rescue Plan.

Broadband Internet is faster than its predecessor, dial-up, and includes DSL, cable and fiber connections. But Americans in rural areas are more likely to report having no broadband access than those living in the suburbs, according to a Pew Research Center Study. This is usually due to a lack of infrastructure.

Mauch told Ars Technica that when he looked at AT&T DSL five years ago, they offered DSL at his home at 1.5 Mbps. That was the recommended internet download speed for Netflix in 2011, according to the New York Times.

At one point, Comcast quoted him $50,000 to bring his cable network to Mauch’s house, he told the outlet.

londonbusinessblog.com has contacted AT&T and Comcast for comment.

So Mauch built his own fiber optic cable network and has connected about 70 other homes to date. The new money should allow him to plug in about 600 additional homes, he said.

Mauch was able to make this fuss because of his skills: He works a day job as a network architect at Akamai Technologies.

Under the government contract, Internet will be offered at prices of $55 and $79 per month, for Internet speeds of 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps, with an installation cost of about $200, Ars Technica wrote.

“Most people don’t have the technical resources or the financial means to do a project like this, and I was lucky enough to be able to do both,” he told Ars Technica. in an earlier story.

In addition to being a bona fide sideshow now known as Washtenaw Fiber Properties, the project has also increased its sense of community.

“I’m definitely much more known to all my neighbors…I’m stored in people’s cell phones as ‘fiber optic cable,'” he told Ars Technica. “The world around me has become a lot smaller, I got to know a lot more people.

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