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Merit Network Begins Deployment of REACH-3MC Optical Equipment

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network, Inc. is pleased to announce the deployment of ADVA Optical Networking equipment at 16 nodes on the Merit backbone. The equipment, which consists of routers, switches and optical transport gear, will improve service to several community anchor institutions that are current Merit Members. The equipment will also interconnect with Merit’s REACH-3MC network build-out, enabling the fast turn-up of hundreds more community anchors as the fiber is constructed.
REACH-3MC and ARRA logos
“I am very excited to announce the successful deployment of the first phase of the REACH-3MC optical platform,” said Michael Milliken, director of network engineering and operations for Merit Network. “The ADVA Optical Networking equipment, which we have placed at critical nodes on our current backbone, will enable immediate 10 Gbps access as we continue to build out the REACH-3M project.”

“Merit understands the positive impact that network technology can have on communities,” said John Scherzinger, senior vice president of sales North America at ADVA Optical Networking. “We are proud to play a role in supporting this important network activation milestone with Merit, clearly demonstrating the scalability, intelligence and operational simplicity of ADVA Optical Networking’s FSP-3000 DWDM optical transport technology.”

Of the 16 optical nodes where new equipment has been deployed, 11 are located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP). They span a segment of Merit’s backbone that connects Merit Governing Members, Lake Superior State University (LSSU), Northern Michigan University (NMU) and Michigan Technological University (MTU), from Sault Ste. Marie to Marquette and Houghton, Michigan.

Merit’s engineering team lit the new equipment in the UP last week. With its successful deployment, LSSU, NMU and MTU now have 10 Gbps (gigabits per second) connections to Merit’s network. That’s a tenfold increase in speed from their previous 1 Gbps connection.

Merit’s Governing Members are not the only organizations that will benefit from the ADVA upgrade.

“Providing high-speed bandwidth in the Upper Peninsula will no longer be a problem, something the region has struggled with for quite some time,” said Elwood Downing, vice president of Member Relations, Communications and Services for Merit Network.

“Because multiple nodes that received upgraded equipment in the UP interconnect with Merit’s REACH-3MC network build-out, community anchor institutions in the region, both current and new Merit Members, will have immediate access to advanced technology and the fastest speeds as REACH-3MC construction continues to accelerate.”

In the Lower Peninsula, Merit has installed upgraded ADVA equipment at optical nodes in Mt. Pleasant, Grand Rapids and Muskegon, though these sites have not been lit at this time. Upgraded equipment will also be installed in Big Rapids once a renovation on the site that will house the equipment is completed. Merit plans to lite these four nodes before the end of the first quarter 2012.

Merit Network has long held a vision of equal access to information everywhere in Michigan, regardless of geographic location. The equipment upgrades and fiber-optic network extension through REACH-3MC will help make that vision a reality, providing the same access and level of service in rural areas like the Upper Peninsula as metropolitan areas in other regions of Michigan.

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.