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Merit Network Celebrates the Completion of its “Blue-Line” Fiber-Optic Network

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – After four years and hundreds of miles of fiber-optic cable, Merit Network engineers lit the fiber-optic cable between Mount Pleasant and Big Rapids on December 12, 2009, to complete the “Blue-Line” portion of the Merit backbone network.

Merit Network, America’s longest-running research and education network is thrilled to have achieved this important milestone. All of Merit’s Public University Members in Michigan are now connected to its high-speed backbone via a fiber-optic connection, providing a minimum traffic capacity of one gigabit-per-second (1 Gbps) to ten gigabit-per-second (10 Gbps).

“We are proud of the Blue-Line. It required years of work by not only our staff, but many in our community,” said Don Welch, President and CEO for Merit Network, Inc. “The Blue-Line will continue to deliver technical and financial benefits to Michigan for decades to come.”

The Blue-Line spans 500 miles and is a facilities-based network, owned, operated and managed by Merit Network. This allows for significant cost savings and flexibility, enabling Members to increase their utilization by as much as ten times the original capacity at any given time by simply making a one-time investment in physical hardware. The Blue-Line is the core of Merit’s statewide, research and education network, which connects 93% of the universities, over 58% of the community colleges, and over 58% of the intermediate school districts in Michigan. Merit’s high-performance network also serves libraries, hospitals, government, and non-profit organizations across Michigan providing reliable connectivity to well over one million users.

Today’s networking needs are constantly changing. Merit Network is focused on ensuring that its Members have the capabilities to keep them at the forefront of research and education networking expertise and service. In 2009, Merit upgraded its core routers to 10 Gbps and enabled all eligible Members to connect to the Internet2 network, America’s national research and education network. Merit is the sole Internet2 connector in Michigan and has provided Internet2 access since 1999.

“This fiber infrastructure allows Merit to keep pace with our Members needs and requirements throughout Lower Michigan,” said Bob Stovall, Vice President, Network Operations and Engineering at Merit Network. “The addition of the Blue-Line fiber to the Merit backbone ensures that Merit has a highly reliable network with full-capacity redundancy that can be quickly provisioned to meet the needs of our community. We can better respond to new services and opportunities without some of the cost and capability constraints we have had in the past.”

Another added benefit to the expansion of Merit’s high-speed network infrastructure has allowed Merit to offer additional strategic services to its Members. Members are benefiting from enhanced services such as MeritFiber, MeritMail, MeritVoice, Merit Storage Cloud and Merit Video Service.

The Blue-Line Network of Merit's backbone in the Lower Peninsula

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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