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Merit Network Completes New Fiber Optic Link to Toledo

ANN ARBOR – Merit Network engineers recently lit a newly completed fiber optic connection to OSCnet, Ohio’s regional research and education network, and began sending data across the 10 Gigabit path.

The new fiber link provides Merit with a second route to the Internet2 backbone, by providing a connection in Cleveland, Ohio. The original link is located in Chicago.

The fiber optic link spans nearly 70 miles from Southfield, Michigan, to Toledo, Ohio, and took approximately one year to complete. The project was part of Merit’s strategic initiatives, continuing to provide its Members with access to the finest advanced network infrastructure in the country.

The connection also opens up collaborations between the research and education communities in Michigan and Ohio. Researchers at Michigan’s public universities can partner with their counterparts in Ohio on cutting-edge research projects and science experiments and utilize the new network link to share their findings, hold interactive video conferences, and virtually share expensive instruments.

“The connection to Toledo and OSCnet not only opens up Merit’s network to a second Internet2 connection, but also strengthens its regional research partnership,” according to Bob Stovall, Merit Network’s Network Operations Manager. “This is Merit’s second direct fiber connection to a Regional Optical Network in Southeast Michigan. The first was to ORION (Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network) in Canada, and with this new connection, we are directly connected to OSCnet.”

The fiber connections will enable use of advanced networking applications between educational institutions. For example, the Interlochen Center for the Arts, a world-renowned music academy in rural northern Michigan, will now be better able to provide virtual instruction to its students via high performance videoconferencing. Interlochen has long worked with the Cleveland Institute of Music to offer its students exposure to music instruction at the collegiate level. Previously, this required that students physically travel to Cleveland. Recent attempts to utilize videoconferencing for distance education have been complicated by connectivity issues.

With the new path, Merit Network is providing OSCnet with connectivity from Toledo to Chicago, connecting them to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) OmniPop Facility at Northwestern University on North Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

“This connection provides the OSCnet community with access to multiple opportunities, such as international connectivity and greater collaborative opportunities with CIC schools and their associated regional networks. It also will give access to national projects,” said Paul Schopis Director of Networking at OSCnet.

Recently, Merit completed its “Blue-Line” Network, which connects cities across the lower peninsula. In 2007, Merit completed Phase I of its Upper Peninsula Fiber Project and finished a link across the Mackinac Bridge, uniting Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas.

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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. For more information:

About Ohio Supercomputer Center

Celebrating over 20 years of service, the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) is a catalytic partner of Ohio universities and industries that provides a reliable high performance computing and high performance networking infrastructure for a diverse statewide/regional community including education, academic research, industry, and state government. Funded by the Ohio Board of Regents, OSC promotes and stimulates computational research and education in order to act as a key enabler for the state’s aspirations in advanced technology, information systems, and advanced industries. For additional information, visit