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Merit, MSU Get Big Stimulus Grants For Fiber

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Merit Network Inc. has received a second federal stimulus grant to extend broadband service to rural areas of Michigan and to beef up the reliability of its network. Also getting grants were Michigan State University and Bloomingdale Communications.

Merit’s grant, of $69.9 million, will add an additional 1,274 miles of fiber-optic cable to its network.

The network will be built across 29 counties in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.

Also receiving funding Wednesday: Michigan State University, which got $6 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build strategic public computing centers across Michigan.

Also, the small telecom Bloomingdale Communications got $5.6 million in federal stimulus money to create a fiber ring in Van Buren County that will connect community anchor institutions.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Merit Network CEO Donald Welch, and officials from MSU and Bloomingdale Communications will gather Tuesday at the Michigan Information Technology Center in Ann Arbor to provide details on the grants.

The grants are expected to lead to nearly $30 million more in private investment.

Merit says the broadband infrastructure to be created will provide significant opportunities for economic development in Michigan and the Midwest.

MSU’s Evidence Based Computing Centers II is a continuation of their previous broadband stimulus award, Evidenced Based Computing Centers. Together the two projects will strengthen the computing and training capacity of anchor institutions throughout Michigan. The projects will establish computer centers
and programming that will be coordinated with libraries, public housing centers, tribal community centers, community colleges, and other anchor institutions. Over 2,000 computers will be installed in 200 computer centers throughout the state.

Bloomingdale Communications’ Van Buren County Fiber Ring project will deploy a
high-speed fiber network that will connect community anchor institutions including
Van Buren Intermediate School District, Berrien County Regional Education Services, the City of South Haven and other government agencies across the county. Access to this infrastructure will allow for greater opportunities in healthcare, education, public safety and boost economic development.

Merit’s REACH-3MC projects will connect many of the MSU computing centers to
Merit’s leading-edge fiber-optic backbone. Bloomingdale Communications and Merit will work together to maximize federal investment for Michigan.

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