Merit Network, Inc.

REACH Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative

The REACH Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative project proposes to build a 955-mile advanced fiber-optic network through underserved counties in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula to serve institutions, businesses and households. The project will extend Merit’s 1600 miles of existing network and intends to directly connect 44 anchor institutions including libraries, universities, community colleges, and community health care centers. The open design of the proposed expansion enables all service providers to directly connect to the network to make broadband more easily available to more than 886,000 households, 45,800 businesses, and 422 anchor institutions. In addition, the proposed service area includes 86 government organizations, 69 K-12 institutions, 63 public library systems, 58 major healthcare facilities, and 50 higher education locations.

Total Award: 
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