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CCI Systems Selected by Merit Network as Fiber-Optic Construction Contractor for REACH-3MC

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network, Inc. announced today the selection of CCI Systems as outside plant (OSP) construction vendor for Merit’s Round 1 REACH-3MC broadband stimulus project. CCI Systems, a communication network services provider based in Iron Mountain, is one of seven Michigan-based companies that will participate in the project as construction vendors.

This comes after CCI was recently awarded a separate contract from Merit to perform engineering for Merit’s second round REACH-3MC II project, which will construct 1,270 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure that spans the Upper Peninsula, with key interconnection points in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

As part of Merit’s Round 1 REACH-3MC project, CCI will help to construct 1,017 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure through rural and underserved communities in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

In 2010, Merit Network applied for and received two grants from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), a program of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Along with private investment, the grants help fund REACH-3MC and REACH-3MC II.

“Merit is proud to lead a project like REACH-3MC that engages local companies from across the state, both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, to work together for something that will benefit all of Michigan,” said Bob Stovall, vice president of network operations and engineering for Merit.

“The goal of REACH-3MC (I & II) is to improve education and increase economic development opportunities in rural communities in Michigan,” Stovall explained. “And the REACH-3MC infrastructure that Merit will construct with CCI will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.”

“CCI Systems is excited and energized to work closely with Merit Network on this great opportunity,” said Cory Heigl, Director of Business Development, at CCI Systems. “Merit’s vision will bring greater broadband access across the state of Michigan, both to the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.”

“This is especially encouraging for Upper Michigan, where CCI Systems will be adding many jobs to the local economy,” Heigl added. “We also applaud Merit Network for its collaboration with the private telecommunication sector, creating a more competitive broadband environment across our great state.”

“Merit has a long tradition of working with communities to help organizations come together to create better networking resources,” said Jim Lundberg, Upper Peninsula member relations manager for Merit Network.

“By selecting Michigan-based companies like CCI Systems to perform work on REACH-3MC, Merit furthers its support of local communities in addition to the benefits the infrastructure will bring by helping to create jobs.”

CCI was selected from a number of qualified vendors that responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP) Merit issued in August 2010. They will perform aerial and underground construction, install conduit and blow fiber through various segments of the network build.

Merit views both Round 1 and Round 2 REACH-3MC fiber builds as part of the same overarching project: REACH-3MC, which will serve as a 2,287-mile fiber-optic network extension of Merit’s backbone and also create an open access network for other providers to leverage.

REACH-3MC infrastructure will take the form of what is commonly referred to as a “condo build” in the telecommunications industry. Merit Network, having planned the network and applied for and received both grants, will be the owner of record for the fiber sheath and will be responsible for construction and maintenance. Within the fiber sheath, both Merit and commercial sub-recipients will own strands of fiber, creating separate networks within the same sheath.

The REACH-3MC fiber will improve education and quality of life in the service areas by connecting community anchor institutions to Merit’s high-performance network. The participation of commercial sub-recipients, who will own strands at various intervals in the network, will improve service to homes and businesses. And because the infrastructure is open-access, it will support local ISPs with new, affordable backhaul options.

About Merit Network

Merit Network Inc., is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. Merit owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance. Since its formation, Merit Network has remained at the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT solutions to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

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The REACH Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative (REACH-3MC) will build 2,287 miles of open-access, advanced fiber-optic network through rural and underserved communities in Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas. The network will also provide backhaul to key connection points in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Led by Merit Network, Michigan’s research and education network, REACH-3MC includes sub-recipients from the private sector to make broadband readily available to households and businesses that lack adequate service options in the 52 counties that make up the project service area. REACH-3MC is funded by a two grants (Round I and Round II) from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), commonly referenced as the Stimulus Package.

About CCI Systems

CCI Systems is the nation’s premier end-to-end solutions provider of communication network services. With over 50 years of experience engineering, constructing, and integrating complex networks, CCI Systems is able to deliver flexible, custom solutions for all network platforms.

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