ANN ARBOR — Merit Network Inc. Thursday announced another contractor for its Rural, Education, Anchor, Community and Heath care – Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative (REACH-3MC) project.

The connectivity provider to Michigan education, government and nonprofit entities announced that Plymouth-based Capital Communications had been selected as a contractor for consulting and construction of central office entrance facilities.

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Capital Communications will perform engineering and installation necessary for REACH-3MC II sub-recipients to access and colocate within central office facilities along the REACH-3MC II fiber path.

Said Michael Milliken, director of network engineering for Merit: “Capital Communications will play a critical role in the project by helping achieve its goal of improved service to homes and businesses in the service area. By helping REACH-3MC II Sub-recipients colocate within central office facilities, Capital is connecting last mile customers in underserved communities with providers who have stepped up and made an investment to offer them better service opportunities.”

REACH-3MC II will enable the commercial sub-recipients access in up to 34 central office facilities throughout the state, which they will use to provide “middle mile” service to local Internet Service Providers in some instances and to provide improved “last mile” service to homes and businesses in others. An additional 12 colocation facilities will be constructed as part of REACH-3MC that will enable the same opportunities in the Upper Peninsula.

“It is a great honor to be chosen by Merit Network and to serve the citizenry of Michigan,” said Capital Communications president David O’Reilly. “With 26 years of delivering telecommunications solutions from Marquette to Monroe, the employees of Capital Communications are proud to be a part of a project as important as REACH in creating jobs and economic velocity for Michigan.”

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Capital Communications was selected from a number of qualified applicants who responded to a Merit-issued Request for Proposal. Merit officials said that while there were “several strong proposals, Merit’s team thoroughly reviewed all RFPs and determined that Capital could deliver the best solution to meet the requirements of the REACH-3MC II project.” The decision, they said, was based on company profile, scope of work, cost, technical requirements and an organization’s ability to complete the work in a timely manner.

Merit Network Inc., a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities, owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network, dating back to 1966. Merit provides high-performance networking to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

REACH-3MC will build 2,287 miles of open-access, advanced fiber-optic network through rural and underserved communities in Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas. The network will also provide backhaul to key connection points in Wisconsin and Minnesota. REACH-3MC will connect 105 community anchor institutions as the network is built and will pass 900 more over time. Led by Merit Network, Michigan’s research and education network, REACH-3MC includes sub-recipients from the private sector to make broadband readily available to households and businesses that lack adequate service options in the 52 counties that make up the project service area. REACH-3MC is funded by a grant from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), better known as the federal stimulus.

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