A good internet connection is just as important as water and power to your home. Some remote users may choose Starlink, others may prefer a 5G option. But what if you have no viable options?
Akamai network architect, Jared Mauch, was so frustrated with the mainstream ISP offerings at his rural home in Michigan that he set up his own FTTH (Fiber To The Home) ISP. It has been such a resounding success that other rural folks have joined up with Washtenaw Fiber Properties LLC for their internet provider. Moreover, Mauch has now qualified for $2.6 million in government funding and will be able to reach nearly 600 further homes in the sparsely populated Washtenaw county area, reports Ars Technica.
Mauch was spurred to set up his own ISP after miserable commercial offerings of internet connectivity to his rural home. AT&T offered DSL with 1.5Mbps downloads, and Comcast wanted a $50,000 upfront payment to extend its cable network to his property. With his networking expertise, Mauch decided on a third path – to set up his own FTTH ISP.
Washtenaw Fiber Properties LLC started with one customer, Mauch himself, but when word got around it grew quickly to 30, and there are currently 70 service subscribers. The fiber network currently relies on about 14 miles of fiber, but to complete the new government-funded project, Mauch will be laying a further 38 miles of fiber.
With the new fiber in place, it is estimated that Washtenaw Fiber Properties LLC will be able to cater to nearly 600 widely dispersed rural customers. Two of the most remote properties in the government contract will each eat up $30,000 of the funding cash, to run the cables and provide service. The cash comes as part of the county’s $71 million dedicated to infrastructure projects, which was allocated as part of the American Rescue Plan's Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
Expanding the Washtenaw Fiber Properties LLC network to meet with the government contract obligations isn’t going to be a challenge, according to Mauch. The work needs to be completed by the end of 2026, but Mauch says that it will be half finished before 2022 is over, with the other half complete by the end of 2023.
So, what kinds of broadband packages will new Washtenaw Fiber Properties LLC customers have access to? For $55 per month, Mauch says people can get a 100Mbps symmetrical service with unlimited data. If you want 1Gbps with unlimited data you will have to scratch together $79 a month. A one-off $199 installation fee is charged to all new customers.