Merit Announces New Regional Fiber Rings

August 3, 2004

For Immediate Release

ANN ARBOR - Merit Network, Inc., has significantly expanded high-bandwidth
networking opportunities for Michigan education and research organizations with the addition of two new regional fiber-optic rings.

The two new rings are located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Chicago, IL. Each fiber ring—literally bands of resilient fiber-optic cable circling or crossing the cities—is a vital part of Merit's primary goal "To make Michigan a showcase for high-performance networking in education and research." Utilizing a facilities-based network, including fiber directly to the customer, will provide Merit's Members and Affiliates the ability to participate in high-performance networking opportunities without the typical proportional increase in circuit cost.

With controlled fiber, increasing bandwidth utilization on the path is as simple as adjusting the lightwaves that carry signals through the glass fiber. No additional circuits are needed, and equipment upgrades are usually minimal. The time required to upgrade is usually days compared to the weeks required to install the typical leased circuit.

The Grand Rapids ring offers bandwidth of at least 1 gigabit per second (one billion bits per second). Grand Valley State University is already attached to the ring; as other Members and Affiliates establish connections, additional bandwidth will be made available.

Merit expects the Grand Rapids ring to be connected to Michigan LambdaRail (MiLR), a Technology Tri-Corridor fiber initiative that is being driven by the research needs of Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and the University of Michigan in conjunction with Merit. The link between Merit's Grand Rapids ring and MiLR will provide additional redundancy to Michigan customers and stabilize transport costs by keeping local traffic local.

The new Chicago ring replaces a leased telecommunications circuit between the Doral Plaza and the Equinix exchange point. Now, Merit owns its own 4 gigabit link between the sites. providing nearly limitless opportunities for advanced networking applications with other research organizations with minimal incremental cost.

These regional fiber rings will give Merit greater direct control over its backbone circuits, providing the ability to offer additional advanced network services while controlling the cost of basic services to its Members and Affiliates.

Merit previously activated a regional fiber ring in Lansing in spring 2004 and plans are underway to activate the next regional fiber ring in the metropolitan Detroit area. The Metro Detroit ring will connect Wayne State University, University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Merit's other backbone sites in Southfield. In addition, the Detroit ring will be used to interconnect Merit with ORION, Merit's research and education network counterpart in Ontario, Canada.

Merit will continue its effort to provide a facilities-based high-performance network throughout the state in the coming months.

A press release about the new service was released on September 14, 2004, by Looking Glass Networks, the company that will be providing dark fiber for the project.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact your Merit Support Team at

For press/media contact:

Elwood Downing
Merit Network, Inc.
Phone: (734)527-5702

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