Merit Network Picks Mt. Pleasant Firm For Fiber Optics In Stimulus Project

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REACH - 3MC map November 2011

ANN ARBOR — Merit Network Inc. Monday announced the selection of J. Ranck Electric Inc. as fiber construction contractor for Merit’s Round 2 REACH-3MC broadband stimulus project.

J. Ranck Electric, an electrical contractor specializing in industrial, commercial and institutional construction based in Mt. Pleasant, is one of six Michigan companies that will participate in the project as construction vendors.

As part of the Round 2 REACH-3MC project, Merit will construct 1,270 miles of open-access, advanced fiber-optic infrastructure through rural and underserved communities in Michigan’s Northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas.

J. Ranck Electric was selected from a number of qualified vendors that responded to a Request for Proposals Merit issued in April 2011. They will complete aerial and underground construction, installing conduit and deploying fiber through various segments of the network build.

Said Merit president and CEO Don Welch: “J. Ranck is ideally suited to contribute to the success of our project and to help us fulfill the project’s objective of improved service throughout Michigan.”

Added Merit vice president of network operations and engineering Bob Stovall: “This is a powerful example of Michigan companies working together to benefit communities throughout Michigan.”

And Jim Ranck, president and founder of J. Ranck Electric said: “We are honored to be part of the team that will bring a high-performance communication infrastructure to communities that will greatly benefit from this technology. The opportunity to collaborate with Merit on this project is at the heart of what our company was founded on, delivering energy and communication solutions that power our state’s future.”

The REACH-3MC II fiber will improve education and quality of life in the service areas by connecting community anchor institutions to Merit’s high-performance network. The participation of commercial sub-recipients, who will own strands at various intervals in the network, will improve service to homes and businesses. And because the infrastructure is open-access, it will support local ISPs with new, affordable backhaul options.

REACH-3MC II infrastructure will take the form of what is commonly referred to as a “condo build” in the telecommunications industry. Merit Network, having planned the network and applied for and received a grant, will be the owner of record for the fiber sheath and will be responsible for construction and maintenance. Within the fiber sheath, both Merit and commercial sub-recipients will own strands of fiber, creating separate networks within the same sheath.

Merit Network helps fund REACH-3MC II with a grant they received from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. BTOP is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the federal stimulus.

Merit Network, a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities, 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.  Merit provides high-performance networking to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

For more information, visit www.merit.edu.

The Rural, Education, Anchor, Community and Heath care – Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative, REACH-3MC II, will build 1,270 miles of open-access, advanced fiber-optic network through rural and underserved communities in Michigan’s Northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas. REACH-3MC II will connect 61 community anchor institutions as the network is built and will pass over 400 more over time. Led by Merit Network, Michigan’s research and education network, REACH-3MC engages sub-recipients from the private sector to make broadband readily available to households and businesses that lack adequate service options in the 27 counties that make up the project service area. Merit Network also received a Round I BTOP grant to fund its REACH-3MC broadband stimulus project, which will build 1,117 miles of fiber-optic network infrastructure in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Both funded projects will interconnect to create a 2,287 fiber-optic network extension for Merit.

More at www.merit.edu/meritformichigan.

J. Ranck Electric Inc. is a second-generation family owned electrical contractor that has been in business since 1986, who specializes in industrial, commercial, institutional and roadway construction. JRE is headquartered in Mt. Pleasant and has branch offices in Flint, Sault Ste. Marie, and Center Line, as well as a field office in Clarksville, Tenn. Since the company was founded, JRE has stayed on the forefront of emerging technologies to bring the highest quality solutions and installations to its customers. To ensure this, in recent years JRE has formed a renewable energy division and a communications division to help lead communities to a more advanced and sustainable future.

More at www.jranck.com.

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