A Rural ISP Side Hustle Received a $2.9M Grant for Expansion


Jared Mauch went and did it himself.

About five years ago, Mauch started building his own broadband internet service as a side hustle to help bring affordable, fast internet to his own home and others nearby in rural Michigan, per reporting from Ars Technica.

Now, he’s received $2.6 million in government funding to expand the project, according to the outlet.

The $2.6 million in funding is from the American Rescue Plan. Mauch submitted a bid in response to Washtenaw County’s request for contractors to build out internet access to underserved areas — and won, along with three others.

Broadband internet is faster than its predecessor, dial-up, and includes DSL, cable, and fiber optic connections, the latter of which is the fastest, per Flux. Rural Americans are more likely to report not having access to broadband than those living in the suburbs, according to a Pew Research Center study published in August 2021. This is often because of a lack of infrastructure.

Mauch told Ars Technica that when he looked into AT&T DSL five years ago, they offered DSL at 1.5Mbps speed at his home. That was the recommended internet download speed for Netflix in 2011, per the New York Times. These days, 1 Mbps is the subscribers’ minimum, but for mid-tier quality streaming, the company recommends 5 Mbps for 1080p.

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

Entrepreneur has reached out to AT&T and Comcast for comment.

So Mauch did it himself. He literally built his own fiber cable network and now has connected roughly 70 homes, and the new money should allow him to connect 600 more homes, he said.

Per the government contract, the internet will be offered at prices of $55 and $79 a month, for internet speeds of 100Mbps and 1Gbps, with installation fees of around $200, Ars Technica wrote.

Mauch was able to do this side hustle because of his skill set: He works as a network architect at Akamai Technologies.

“Most people don’t have either the technical wherewithal or the financial wherewithal to execute a project like this, and I was lucky to have the capability to do both,” he told Ars Technica in a prior story.

In addition to being a bonafide side hustle, now known as Washtenaw Fiber Properties, the project has also increased his sense of community.

“I’m definitely a lot more well-known by all my neighbors… I’m saved in people’s cell phones as ‘fiber cable guy,'” he told Ars Technica. “The world around me has gotten a lot smaller, I’ve gotten to know a lot more people.



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