Bloke builds his own broadband to avoid expensive bill — then gets awarded £2.1m

A man who got so sick of paying expensive bills for slow internet took matters into his own hands and built his own broadband service in his back garden.

Jared Mauch, who lives in rural Michigan, wanted to get high-speed internet access to his remote home but when he was handed a whopping $50,000 ($38,000) bill to have it installed, he decided to give it a go himself.

The network architect successfully set up his own fibre broadband ISP (Internet Service Provider) on his land six years ago.

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He then started hooking up his neighbours to the high-speed internet in 2021 and his hard work was rewarded last year when he was handed a multi-million dollar grant.

Jared said he had "had to start a telephone company to get [high-speed] Internet" to his home in Washtenaw County after paying rip-off rates for a slow internet speed of 1.5Mbps.

None of the main American broadband companies had extended their fast networks to the remote area he lives in.

When he contacted Comcast, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the US, he was quoted a staggering $50,000 (£38,000) to install it.

Jared said if the price had been lower, he probably would have just forked out for the faster internet.

"If they had priced it at $10,000, I would have written them a cheque," he told ArsTechnica.

But explaining why he decided to do the work himself, he added: "It was so high at $50,000 that it made me consider if this is worthwhile. Why would I pay them to expand their network if I get nothing back out of it?"

At first, Jared was the only customer of his new company, Washtenaw Fiber Properties.

But soon his neighbours began signing up and by January 2021, he'd connected 30 properties up to his network, which increased to around 70 by 2022.

Now he's working on expanding his network even further after being awarded a whopping $2.6million (£2.1milllion) from the government last year.

$71million (£54million) in federal government money had been allocated to Washtenaw County for infrastructure projects, including a portion dedicated to broadband development.

The county issued a request for proposals from contractors seeking to wire up local addresses in exchange for a grant and Jared decided to apply.

"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 said.

Jared, whose network already had about 14 miles of fibre, is now in the process of building another 38 miles which will let him expand to nearly 600 more properties.

Instead of paying eye-watering fees for slow internet, Jared is offering his customers 100Mbps and unlimited data for $55 (£42) per month.

The government-funded project has to be completed by the end of 2026 but Jared is aiming for an earlier deadline.

He said his goal was to have half built by the end of 2022 and intends to complete the other half by the end of this year.

So far his customers have been happy with the service.

"The service seems to be working well. I'm not getting customer complaints, which is probably the primary thing," he said.

His venture has also made him a popular face in the local community, he added: "I'm definitely a lot more well-known by all my neighbours… I'm saved in people's cell phones as 'fibre cable guy'".

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