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Merit Network Selects Western Tel-Com, Inc. as Fiber-Optic Construction Vendor for REACH-3MC

Greg Monroe 2011 News, News, News - REACH-3MC

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network, Inc. is pleased to announce today the selection of Western Tel-Com, Inc. as fiber construction contractor for Merit’s Round 1 REACH-3MC broadband stimulus project.

Western Tel-Com, a communications, cabling and underground construction contractor based in Holland, is one of seven Michigan-based companies that will participate in the project as construction vendors.
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Working under Western Tel-Com, Utility Contracting Company of Sparta, will also contribute to REACH-3MC construction.

As part of the Round 1 REACH-3MC project, Merit will construct 1,017 miles of open-access, advanced fiber-optic infrastructure through rural and underserved communities in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Western Tel-Com was selected from a number of qualified vendors that responded to a Request for Proposals (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.

“Merit is proud to announce that Western Tel-Com will join us on this project that will make a tremendous difference in Michigan,” said Merit President and CEO, Don Welch. “The benefits of REACH-3MC to education and economic development will be profound and long-lasting.”

“This is a powerful example of Michigan companies working together to benefit communities throughout Michigan,” said Merit’s Vice President of Network Operations and Engineering, Bob Stovall. “I am very excited to work with Western Tel-Com as we set out to create better resources for our state, and in the process, create jobs that will benefit the local economy.”

“Western Tel-Com and Utility Contracting are proud to be a part of a project that is providing new construction jobs in Michigan as well as making it easier and more affordable for business, homes, schools, hospitals, doctors offices and government agencies to have access to high speed internet in our rural areas and communities,” said Western Tel-Com’s President, Kurt Friedriechsen.

“We have constructed thousands of miles of fiber optic cable networks throughout Michigan and we look forward to providing our expertise and experience to the Merit team. Western Tel-Com is currently preparing our equipment and crews as well as hiring new employees for this project. We are ready and excited to get started with construction.”

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 Western Tel-Com

Western Tel-Com, Inc. is a full service, equal opportunity communications company that has served our Michigan-based customers for 25 years. Western Tel-Com provides structured cabling, aerial and underground construction, cable maintenance and locating services and 24 hour emergency cable repair and restoration services for fiber and copper networks.

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For press/media contact:

Pierrette Templeton
Merit Network, Inc.
Phone: (734)527-5734
Email: [email protected]