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Merit Network Finalizes New Commodity Service Agreement

ANN ARBOR – Merit Network has reached a new commodity service agreement that simplifies backbone routing. The new service agreement minimizes the number of egress points where Merit traffic accesses the commodity Internet. Whereas traffic of this nature on Merit’s network was previously split between four 1 gigabit (1G) paths, Merit now provides its Members with two diverse and redundant 10G paths, each serviced by a different Tier 1 provider.

“Routing processes are now more efficient,” replied Bob Stovall, Vice President of Network Operations and Engineering for Merit, when asked about the impact of the new agreement. “In the event of a node failure, the network can self-regulate dynamically without the assistance of an engineer. That translates to faster and more reliable service for our Members.”

Network map graphic

In addition to eliminating the need for manual traffic-management intervention, the new 10G commodity connections have allowed for greater usage of Merit’s backbone. Under the previous agreement, the network used roughly three gigabits of capacity in production mode. Since the new agreement, Merit has seen that number rise to over four gigabits of commodity traffic. The new agreement includes burstable service as well. So in the case of a drastic spike in commodity Internet traffic, as experienced during the Obama Inauguration, Merit Members can be assured that bandwidth will not become overwhelmed by use, and that this assurance will come at a reasonable price.

Within the new service agreement, Merit has integrated an upgraded connection to Internet2 as well. Internet2 enables connections between academia and research fellows world-wide that would not be possible otherwise without the dynamic Interenet2 backbone. Merit Members now link to Internet2 via two upgraded 10G paths. The new expanded 10G connections provide the Merit network with sufficient capacity to handle increased demand in the future.

The new connections provided in the agreement, located in Chicago and Cleveland respectively, also reconfigure Merit’s connecting paths to Internet2. Prior to the agreement, Merit operated two connections to the Internet2 backbone along a fiber ring in Chicago. This ensured redundancy in the event of a node failure in Chicago; however, if the Merit fiber line to Chicago went down, so did Merit Members’ access to Internet2. By supplanting one of these access points with a connection in Cleveland, Merit can now offer Members an Internet2 connection in two distinct regions of the Internet2 backbone, thus achieving a much higher degree of reliability than before.

As Merit now boasts two diverse and expanded paths to the foremost national research and education network, Members can better leverage Internet2 for innovative research projects, interactive K-20 programs, and collaboration with other Internet2-capable organizations.

Merit Network has also finalized a peering agreement with OARnet, Ohio’s high-performance research and education network. With each employing different service providers, Merit and OARnet have agreed to provide back-up connectivity and access to one another’s respective 10G networks in the case of emergency, which ensures that Merit Members will continue to have reliable, high-speed service during an unexpected outage. The peering agreement continues Merit’s strong relationship with OARnet and Ohio’s networking community.

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: