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Merit Completes Round 1 REACH-3MC Construction

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network, Inc. announced today the completion of Round 1 REACH-3MC construction. All infrastructure is installed with fiber-optic cable along the 1,017-mile network extension through rural and underserved areas in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, including all 55 fiber-optic lateral connections to Merit Members from the middle-mile infrastructure.

“Merit is proud to announce the completion of Round 1 REACH-3MC construction,” said Elwood Downing, vice president of outreach and member engagement for Merit. “Merit began REACH-3MC with a belief in equal access to information for all in Michigan and a vision to better support and grow the Merit community. The fiber miles announced today and the connections to our Members throughout Michigan are the culmination of a great project design and a great deal of hard work on the part of Merit and our community.”

“This great accomplishment would not be possible without the hard work of Merit staff and our construction contractors, the cooperation of our REACH-3MC Sub-recipients, and the assistance of the many utility companies, State organizations and local municipalities who assisted with permitting,” said Bob Stovall, vice president of network engineering and operations for Merit. “This is truly a collective milestone for Michigan.”

The project now enters the final testing and acceptance phase, in which all fiber strands undergo OTDR (optical time-domain reflectometer) testing to ensure proper installation and ideal performance.

Both Merit and REACH-3MC Round 1 Sub-recipients are currently using active fibers across the REACH-3MC network to “light” service to current Members and customers. The final testing phase will verify the remaining fiber strands and engage REACH-3MC construction vendors to make any necessary repairs under their installation warranty.

Following testing and acceptance, the Round 1 REACH-3MC project will enter the final close-out period of the grant, which includes payment of final invoices and an audit of project financials by the federal grant agency.

April 8, 2013 REACH-3MC update map

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.