Man Builds Own Broadband to Avoid $50k Comcast Fee

John Lister's picture

A man who built his own broadband network because he couldn't afford a commercial service has got a $2.6 million government deal to serve other households. Jared Mauch took the drastic step after Comcast asked for $50,000 to connect his rural Michigan home.

Mauch had been on a 1.5 Mbps phone line connection since 2002, a speed that was no longer sufficient for his needs. He had switched to a wireless service in frustration before asking Comcast to extends its network to cover his home.

He told Arstechnica that he would have paid as much as $10,000 for the connection but could not afford the $50,000 it asked for. (Source: arstechnica.com)

$5,000 Up-Front Payment

Instead, he took advantage of the fact he is a network architect and built his own local network. It cost around $145,000 to create, the bulk of which went on physically installing the cables. The network includes two miles of cabling to connect the area to the nearest commercial network provider.

As of January last year he had signed up 40 neighbors to his service, roughly 70 percent of the homes in the area his network covered. Many paid $5,000 up front to help fund the network - however, that also counted toward credit for future service, which costs between $65 and $99 a month depending on speed.

$30,000 To Connect Single Home

Despite being a comparatively tiny communications business, Mauch has now successfully bid for a project run by his county using money from a federal fund to expand broadband to regional areas. (Source: mirror.co.uk)

In return for the cash, he's required to offer service to 417 addresses. The funding will help cover the fact that some addresses will require as much as half a mile of cabling, costing more than $30,000 to install. Mauch notes the price of the cabling itself has more than doubled in the past couple of years.

The contract also means Mauch will offer more favorable rates than he charges for his original network. New customers will pay either $55 for 100 Mbps or $79 for 1Gbps. Unlike some rural broadband, there will be no data use limits.

What's Your Opinion?

Is it surprising that a private individual has turned to building their own network? Does this prove the free market means people will find a way to get broadband anywhere if they want it enough? Or does the expansion show that public subsidy may be necessary to get every home a 21st century connection?

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