ANN ARBOR — Merit Network Inc. announced that it has connected the University of Michigan Biological Station in northern Michigan as part of its REACH-3MC network build out project.

UMBS, located on Douglas Lake, near Pellston in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula, now has a 1 Gigabit fiber-optic connection to Merit’s backbone.

The Biological Station is now also connected directly to the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor via Merit fiber.

“Merit has been working with the University of Michigan for a long to improve networking resources for the Biological Station,” said Don Welch, president and CEO of Merit Network. “The fact that the University of Michigan is a Governing Member of Merit Network makes this announcement extra special. It demonstrates the strength of a Member-based organization like Merit Network as well as the value of a project like REACH-3MC.”

Added UM associate vice president and CIO Laura Patterson: “The University of Michigan is proud of the progress Merit has achieved in advancing their research and education backbone throughout the state and we look forward to future success to follow. Without Merit’s efforts, the University could not have afforded to connect the Biological Station alone. We are grateful for our partnership with Merit Network and all that we have achieved together.”

The Biological Station has been connected to Merit’s network via limited circuits since the 1990s. Their Merit connection began with dial-up service and then moved to dedicated telecommunications circuits, which still limited capacity and speed.

UMBS conducts research on everything from plant life, aquatic sensor technology to experimental invasion of constructed wetland mesocosms. The research is funded by various groups and individuals including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, NASA and other agencies. The additional fiber capacity announced today will allow for an expansion in research activity and personnel.

Said Knute Nadelhoffer, director, University of Michigan Biological Station: “We are ecstatic with the increase in service and connectivity. This increases our capacity and enhances the impacts of our research and training activities.”

The Biological Station also hosts undergraduate classes in the spring and summer, with a faculty of 15 to 20 instructors and approximately 130 undergraduate students and 30 to 40 graduate student researchers per season. The connection to Merit Network via REACH-3MC has already led to an increase in productivity for students and faculty alike.

“You can’t imagine how luxurious it feels to be able to download PDFs in under five minutes. Or — as happened last week — go from it taking eight-plus hours to download a work-related video file, to it taking three minutes. It feels like we’ve gone from slogging through mud to driving a sports car!” said Alicia Farmer, communications coordinator, University of Michigan Biological Station.

Merit Network plans to connect over 100 community anchor institutions like the University of Michigan Biological Station as part of their REACH-3MC project. The 2,287 mile infrastructure project also features the participation of seven commercial Sub-recipients who will offer service to homes, businesses and backhaul to local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in communities along the route that encompasses both Michigan Peninsulas and parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Merit Network is 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. Since its formation, Merit Network has remained on the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT solutions to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

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