Merit Network, Inc.

REACH Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative II

Community anchor institutions in rural northern Michigan often face high costs and/or limited Internet technology options, resulting in inadequate service for organizations in this economically distressed region. Merit Network proposes to address this problem by constructing a 1,210-mile fiber network offering speeds between 100 Mbps and 10 Gbps in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Lower Northern Peninsula, with additional connections to research and educational networks in Green Bay, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota. Merit, whose existing network serves many of Michigan’s government, public safety, and health care organizations, plans to connect 61 anchor institutions, including public universities, community colleges, K-12 schools, libraries, health research institutions, Michigan’s Next Generation 911 system, and various local governments.

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BTOP In Action
Image: Merit Network crews begin to feed fiber into the conduit.

Merit Network, Inc. deployed more than 1,040 miles of fiber through June 2013 as part of its REACH-3MC project, a fiber-optic network funded by two BTOP grants that will provide rural Michigan communities with access to high-quality and high-speed Internet service. Part of this network includes fiber-optic cable crossing the Mackinaw Bridge that will connect Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and its more remote Upper Peninsula. Michigan’s public universities originally created Merit as a shared resource to help educational institutions meet their common need for state-of-the-art networking expertise and services. Merit has since implemented a 10 Gbps backbone to support the research and education needs of Michigan’s public university campuses.

Roger Rehm, chair of the Merit Board of Directors and Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Central Michigan University, said, “These are exciting times in higher education, and… Merit continues to position itself in the forefront of state research and educational networks and to underscore the competitiveness of higher education in the state of Michigan. These faster connections will more easily enable research partnerships and teaching collaborations… while the expanded bandwidth will provide the Michigan educational community with faster and more transparent access to educational programs and resources.”

Reports and Documents
Award Documents