Comcast's $210K Broadband Installation Charge Inspires Silicon Valley Resident to Build His Own ISP

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A Silicon Valley tech worker has made national headlines following his response to Comcast's unreasonable $210,000 charge to connect broadband to his Los Altos, Calif. home.

Sasha Zbrozek, an electrical engineer working for a company that makes self-operating boats, described in an Ars Technica story published earlier this week how he led the creation of a co-op that built a fiber-to-the-home network. Los Altos Hills Community Fiber is currently delivering 10 gigabits-per-second internet to 17 homes in his affluent area.

"Before I bought my home [in 2019], I checked with Comcast -- by phone -- to see if service was available at the address. They said yes," Zbrozek told the tech pub. "After moving in, I called to buy service. The technician came out and left a note saying that service was not available."

The nearest Comcast connection was 167 feet from Zbrozek's home. Regulations required that the rift be bridged via trench as opposed to above-ground wire. Comcast told Ars that trenching is a particularly difficult prospect, given the "heaviness" of the road Zbrozek lives on -- special concrete-cutting hardware would have had to have been used.

Comcast also refused to allow Zbrozek to piggyback on a neighbor's Comcast connection, which would have required only 40 feet of trenching.

"The spirit of the franchise agreement is that I'm supposed to be able to get service because I'm on a public road, but in practice that just wasn't the case," Zbrozek said.

The young engineer and his wife, who live just five miles down the road from Google's headquarters, initially got by using a bridge from their mobile network.

Eventually, Zbrozek got to work on finding a solution, and he began working with some of his neighbors, who were also not connected to Comcast's network.

They looked at AT&T fiber, but it would have costs between $28,000 - $44,000 per home to connect to service.

So, Zbrozek formed the co-op, with participating residents kicking in $12,000 a head. Next Level Networks was contracted to help build the network, which has been up and running since early last year. Customers pay $155 a month to use the network.

This isn't the first time Ars has spun this populists yarn.

In August, the tech blog reported on Michigan resident Jared Mauch, who received $2.6 million to build a FTTH after Comcast wanted to charge him a $50,000 connection charge. ■

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!