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Homegrown ISP in Michigan Expanding to Hundreds More Homes

Jared Mauch is expanding his ISP to more than 400 properties with the help of a grant from the government, says a report.

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A map on the Washtenaw Fiber Properties website shows the ISP's service area, in Michigan's Washtenaw County, west of Detroit.
Screenshot by CNET

After Jared Mauch had trouble getting good broadband service in rural Michigan from AT&T or Comcast, he reportedly built his own fiber-to-the-home internet service provider, or ISP. Now Mauch is expanding his homegrown services through a $2.6 million government grant, part of the America Rescue Plan's State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, Ars Technica reported on Wednesday.  

When Ars Technica first wrote about Mauch and his ISP, Washtenaw Fiber Properties LLC, last January, he was providing internet service to 30 Michigan homes. He reportedly decided to start his own ISP after Comcast wanted $50,000 to extend its cable network to his home. 

Mauch is reportedly now using money from the grant to extend his services to hundreds more homes. He signed a contract in May with local Washtenaw County officials that requires him to bring service to 417 homes, but he's eyeing nearly 600 potential customers, according to Ars Technica. His ISP will reportedly provide speeds up to 100Mbps with unlimited data for $55 a month or 1Gbps with unlimited data for $79 a month. 

Broadband fiber networks have quickly expanded in the US thanks in part to pandemic-influenced telecommuting and government subsidies. US programs like the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and Broadband Equity have encouraged internet service providers to bring faster access to places in the US that originally would've been unprofitable to serve.

Last November, President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that dedicated $65 billion to broadband access. The new law intends to help close the digital divide, which refers to the divide between certain regions and demographic groups that aren't equipped with modern technology and those that are. 

The recent news highlights how communities with a lack of resources for digital needs are creating their own. Construction, covered by Mauch's funding, will begin on an area that surrounds a lake in Freedom Township in August, Ars Technica reported. 

"Generally speaking, it's a lower income area as well as an area that has been without service for a very long time, aside from cellular or wireless," Mauch told the publication. "The goal is to close the gap on them very quickly."