Merit Network Completes First Phase of Facilities-Based Backbone

August 18, 2005

ANN ARBOR - Merit Network, Inc. is pleased to announce final operational transition to facilities-based networking for its southern Michigan backbone connections. The new connections utilize dark fiber from Michigan Lambda Rail (MiLR), a collaborative effort of Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

The Universities have contracted with Merit to support the initial deployment of advanced optical electronics and to subsequently manage day-to-day engineering and operations of the MiLR network. Merit and the Universities also have an agreement to allow Merit use of the MiLR fiber for backbone transport of Merit's Member and Affiliate traffic.

"Transition to a facilities-based network is an exciting move for Merit," said Mike McPherson, Merit Network Interim President and CEO. "This move will provide Merit tremendous growth in bandwidth, quadrupling current capacity (from 2.5 Gbps to 10 Gbps), while containing future costs and establishing Merit in the field of regional optical networking. Utilizing a facilities-based backbone provides Merit with complete engineering control in support of new initiatives and research activities critical to the future success of our Members and Affiliates."

The fiber connections consist of more than 750 miles of fiber-optic cabling, including geographically diverse routes between Detroit and Chicago, as well as metro rings within both cities. The network connects Merit Members and Affiliates with direct peering connections to national and international research and education networks such as National LambdaRail, Internet2/Abilene, CANARIE (Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education) and MREN.

The transition to the new fiber occurred over a two-week period, and was completed with minimal networking impacts. "I credit our talented engineering and operations staff in making this significant networking shift go so smoothly," said Mary Eileen McLaughlin, Merit's MichNet Director. "Completion of this fiber network in southern Michigan is the first step in ambitious plans for fiber throughout the state. Deployment is underway in several mid-Michigan areas and planning is ongoing for the northern region and Upper Peninsula."

For press/media contact:

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

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