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Merit Network Selects Boardman River Communications as Fiber-Optic Construction Contractor for REACH-3MC

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network, Inc. announced today the selection of Boardman River Communications as an outside plant (OSP) construction vendor for Merit’s Round 1 REACH-3MC broadband stimulus project. Boardman River Communications, a veteran owned and U.S. Small Business Administration Certified Small Disadvantaged Business (SBA-SDB) broadband service operator and contractor based in Kalkaska, is one of seven Michigan-based companies that will participate in the project as construction vendors.

As part of Merit’s Round 1 REACH-3MC project, Boardman River Communications will help to construct 1,017 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure through rural and underserved communities in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

“Merit is proud to lead a project like REACH-3MC that engages local companies from across the state to work together for something that will benefit all of Michigan,” said Bob Stovall, vice president of network operations and engineering for Merit.

“The goal of REACH-3MC is to improve education and increase economic development opportunities in rural communities in Michigan,” Stovall explained. “And the REACH-3MC infrastructure that Merit will construct with Boardman River Communications will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.”

“By near-sourcing work to Michigan-based companies like Boardman River Communications, Merit supports local communities in the REACH-3MC service areas by creating jobs in addition to the benefits the infrastructure will bring,” said Eric Grandstaff, Northwest Michigan member relations manager for Merit Network.

Up to 35 jobs will be created at Boardman River Communications for this portion of the project.

Boardman River Communications was selected from a number of qualified vendors that responded to a Request for Proposal (RFP) Merit issued in August 2010. They will complete aerial and underground construction, installing conduit and deploying fiber through various segments of the network build.

REACH-3MC infrastructure will take the form of what is commonly referred to as a “condo build” in the telecommunications industry. Merit Network, having planned the network and applied for and received a grant, will be the owner of record for the fiber sheath and will be responsible for construction and maintenance. Within the fiber sheath, both Merit and commercial sub-recipients will own strands of fiber, creating separate networks within the same sheath.

The REACH-3MC fiber will improve education and quality of life in the service areas by connecting community anchor institutions to Merit’s high-performance network. The participation of commercial sub-recipients, who will own strands at various intervals in the network, will improve service to homes and businesses. And because the infrastructure is open-access, it will support local ISPs with new, affordable backhaul options.

Merit Network helps fund REACH-3MC with a grant they received from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). BTOP is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), otherwise known as the Stimulus Package.

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.

About Boardman River Communications

Boardman River Communications, LLC (BRC) is a broadband service operator providing Cable TV, Internet and VoIP Telephony service currently operating in Kalkaska, Antrim and Grand Traverse Counties Michigan. Gary John, President and Network Engineer for BRC, has more than 30 years of experience with cable and fiber plant construction and operation. Boardman River Communications launched High Speed Broadband Internet based services in a portion of Kalkaska County in April of 2010 and continues to expand its service area and customer base.