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Merit Network Selects Thunder Bay Electric, Inc. as Fiber-Optic Construction Vendor for REACH-3MC

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network, Inc. announced today the selection of Thunder Bay Electric, Inc. as outside plant (OSP) construction vendor for Merit’s Round 1 REACH-3MC broadband stimulus project. Thunder Bay Electric, an electrical contractor based in Alpena, is one of seven Michigan-based companies that will participate in the project as construction vendors.
Tim Modrynznski of Thunder Bay Electric and Merit's Bob Stovall sign an agreement
As part of Merit’s Round 1 REACH-3MC project, Thunder Bay Electric 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 Thunder Bay Electric will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.”

“By near-sourcing the work to local, Michigan-based companies like Thunder Bay Electric, Merit supports local communities in the REACH-3MC service areas by creating jobs in addition to the benefits the infrastructure will bring.”

“Thunder Bay Electric is proud to have been chosen as one of Merit Network’s selected contractors to participate in Phase I of the REACH-3MC project. Over the past ten years, Thunder Bay Electric has had the privilege of helping the Alpena area municipalities receive substantial improvements in service with the benefit of lowering cost—thanks to the efforts of Merit. We are proud to expand fiber optic service to the rural areas of northern Michigan,” said Thunder Bay Electric President, Tim Modryznski.

Thunder Bay Electric was selected from a number of qualified vendors that responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP) Merit issued in August 2010. They will perform aerial and underground construction, install conduit and blow fiber through various segments of the network build.

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.

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.

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 Thunder Bay Electric, Inc.

Thunder Bay Electric, Inc. was founded in 1987 with the purpose of serving the electrical needs of Northern Michigan. Over the past 20 years, Thunder Bay Electric has answered the call to diversify their services to meet the growing needs of customers and their community. In additional to providing your basic residential, commercial and industrial electrical services, they also offer a full line of datacom, fiber optic, nurse call and fire alarm installations, along with a complete design-build service team. Our staff of twelve full-time full service electricians offer a combined 130 years of experience priding themselves on job site safety, quality workmanship and above all excellent customer service.

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