Ann Arbor-based Merit Network Inc., has selected Hickory, N.C.-based CommScope Inc. as fiber optic cable vendor for Merit’s broadband stimulus project, REACH-3MC.

CommScope was selected from a number of qualified suppliers that responded to a request for proposal Merit issued in late June.

The REACH Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative (REACH-3MC) will build 1,017 miles of open-access, advanced fiber optic network through rural and underserved communities in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

REACH-3MC will connect 44 community anchor institutions as the network is built and will pass 391 more over time.

Led by Merit Network, a network of Michigan’s research and education institutions, REACH-3MC engages three sub-recipients from the private sector,, LYNX, and TC3 net, to make broadband readily available to households and businesses that lack adequate service options in the 33 counties that make up the project service area.

REACH-3MC is funded by a grant from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly referenced as the federal stimulus.

“We believe that CommScope will manufacture and deliver a superior fiber optic cable at a very competitive cost,” said Bob Stovall, vice president of network engineering and operations for Merit Network. “There are a number of factors that we examined to reach this conclusion, from the quality of fiber optic cable produced to the delivery methods and cleanup.”

Added Pete Miller, Merit’s director of network engineering and operations; “The REACH-3MC build-out will utilize CommScope’s ability to deliver fiber in as close to just-in-time as possible. This will give Merit the ability to customize reel size and have the material delivered to where it is needed and exactly when it is needed.”

And Robert Duncan, Merit director of infrastructure architecture and strategy, said: “The fiber delivery is done via CommScope’s own fleet of delivery vehicles that are equipped with off-loading hoists. This means Merit will not have the need for shipping and receiving docks or forklifts to accept the delivery of the fiber. It makes things easier and more cost-effective.”

The CommScope RFP response included the recovery and recycling of all spent reels as well, the Merit team said. This is significant considering there is expected to be over 1,000 empty reels when construction is complete.

“CommScope specializes in helping people connect to high-bandwidth data, voice and video applications everywhere,” said Peter Karlsson, senior vice president of Global Enterprise Sales, CommScope. “We are pleased to support Merit in providing advanced broadband access to more residents and communities in Michigan.”

More at or

Merit Network, dating back to 1966 as an effort to link the mainframe computers of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, is Michigan’s oldest Internet service provider.

CommScope has 15,000 employees and revenue of $4 billion a year.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.


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