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Merit Network’s “Blue-Line” Moves Closer to Completion

With the recent completion of a fiber optic connection between Midland and Saginaw, Merit Network has moved one step closer to completing the “Blue-Line” portion of its backbone optical network in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Over the next few months, the three remaining segments (Midland to Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Pleasant to Big Rapids, and Big Rapids to Howard City) are scheduled to be completed, with the entire “Blue-Line” network being operational by the end of this summer.

Started in April 2005, the 17-segment “Blue-Line” network will total over 500 miles of fiber-optic cabling when complete. Each connection is currently provisioned at 1 gigabytes-per-second of traffic, however Merit’s engineers can increase the network’s capabilities by simply changing the optics and electronic equipment as needed in the future. During peak times, Merit’s entire backbone currently averages 6 gigabytes of traffic across the network on a daily basis.

“The completion of the “Blue-Line” will provide Merit’s Members with an advanced network infrastructure that has the flexibility to meet their needs far into the future,” said Bob Stovall, Merit Network’s Network Operations Manager.

The facilities-based network enables Merit to offer its membership a wider array of services that can utilize the network. MeritMail, MeritVoice, and Merit Video Collaboration Service (MVCS) are among the new services that have been launched recently, and each is possible thanks to the high-speed, high-capacity infrastructure that has been built into the “Blue-Line” and Merit’s backbone network.

network diagram

“With the current infrastructure, the Merit community and Michigan’s research and education network can provide leadership in network utilization,” according to Stovall. “Dynamic Circuit Service (DCN), IPTV services, disaster recovery, and services we haven’t even thought of yet can take advantage of our robust networking in the future and give our Members more opportunities to leverage the network to help their organizations.”

In addition to completing the last leg of the “Blue-Line,” Merit is working on projects in the Upper Peninsula that will increase service to the region and provide additional redundancy. Merit will be partnering with AT&T to install a CSME network that will connect Marquette, Houghton, St. Ignace and Sault Ste. Marie. By late summer, a second gigabit connection to Chicago from Iron Mountain will be provisioned, increasing the redundancy from the Upper Peninsula.

network map

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: