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Merit Lights REACH-3MC II Network Segments in Upper Peninsula

ANN ARBOR, MI – Merit Network, Inc. announced today the completion of three significant segments of their Round II REACH-3MC fiber-optic network build-out in the Upper Peninsula: St. Ignace to Watersmeet, Watersmeet to Houghton, and Powers to Menominee. Merit has completed construction on these segments and activated optical network equipment that is used to “light” the newly installed fiber to provide service.

“I am proud to announce fiber continuity and lit service over such a substantial portion of the Upper Peninsula,” stated Michael Milliken, director of network engineering and operations, Merit Network.

“The segments announced today provide an additional 445 miles of critical network infrastructure in the UP. The community anchor institutions connected are located in some of the most remote areas of our state. The success of Merit’s outreach and the REACH-3MC project in the UP is enabling these institutions the ability to do some truly amazing things from an IT and connectivity standpoint,” added Jim Lundberg, Upper Peninsula member relations manager, Merit Network.

The fiber-optic cable lit today is part of the Round II REACH-3MC “mainline.” Led by Merit Network, the goal of REACH-3MC is to construct fiber-optic infrastructure that connects community anchor institutions (schools, libraries, health care, government, public safety) by way of “laterals,” or spurs from the mainline.

An additional 28 community anchor institutions have received lateral connections along the completed network segments announced today. The laterals have 1 gigabit (Gbps) capacity and connect the anchor institutions to Merit’s network. With the mainline now lit, Merit is working with these 28 anchor institutions to transition them to the new and improved service made possible by REACH-3MC.

In addition to the successfully lit segments announced today, Merit has completed installation of fiber optical cable in Michigan on Round II REACH-3MC, with the exception of a small segment west of Alpena and another stretch between Houghton to Calumet.

“In each of these locations, Merit is waiting for make ready pole repairs to be completed before attaching Round II REACH-3MC fiber. Merit plans to lit the segment from Watersmeet to Ironwood within the next week,” said Bob Stovall, vice president of network engineering and operations, Merit Network.

Construction crews continue to make progress on the Round II REACH-3MC route west of Ironwood, Michigan, through Northern Wisconsin to Duluth, Minnesota, as well as the fiber path south of Menominee, Michigan toward Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Merit is currently working with Round I and Round II REACH-3MC Participants to complete testing and final acceptance of each respective organization’s fiber as it is completed.

Merit expects to announce completion on the remaining Round II REACH-3MC segments in Michigan’s Northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas later this fall.

August 28, 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.