When Comcast wanted an exorbitant $50k for a $10k fiber run to his home in rural Michigan, an Akamai engineer built his own ISP. Now he has received government funding to expand and service more customers in Washtenaw County.
Operating an ISP isn't Mauch's primary job, as he is still a network architect at Akamai. He started planning to build his own network about five years ago after being unable to get modern service from any of the major ISPs.
As we wrote last year, AT&T only offers DSL with download speeds up to 1.5Mbps at his home. He said Comcast once told him it would charge $50,000 to extend its cable network to his house—and that he would have gone with Comcast if they only wanted $10,000. Comcast demands those up-front fees for line extensions when customers are outside its network area, even if the rest of the neighborhood already has Comcast service.
Mauch was using a 50Mbps fixed wireless service before switching over to his own fiber network. In addition to his home Internet customers, Mauch told us he provides free 250Mbps service to a church that was previously having trouble with its Comcast service. Mauch said he also provides fiber backhaul to a couple of cell towers for a major mobile carrier.
I lived with service from a privately operated rural ISP for over a decade. Government funds would have helped, but because we were inside a national park, there were all sorts of limitations about communications equipment and Federal land. All the transport had to be wireless, and I can not tell you how wonderful it is to be in a city with fiber to my home.