ANN ARBOR — Merit Network Inc. announced Friday the completion of three key segments of its Round II REACH-3MC network build-out: Cadillac to Mio, Gaylord to Mackinaw City, and Grayling to Kalkaska.

Merit has completed construction on the segments and activated optical network equipment that is used to “light” the newly installed fiber to provide service.

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The fiber-optic cable lit today is part of the Round II REACH-3MC “mainline.” Led by Merit Network, the goal of REACH-3MC is to construct fiber-optic infrastructure that connects communities together. In the process, Merit connects community anchor institutions (schools, libraries, health care, government, public safety) by way of “laterals,” or spurs, from the mainline.

An additional 13 community anchor institutions received lateral connections along the completed network segments announced Friday. The laterals have 1 gigabit (Gbps) capacity and connect the anchor institutions to Merit’s network. With the mainline now lit, Merit expects to have those 13 institutions transitioned to the new and improved service made possible by REACH-3MC within 2 weeks.

Said Michael Milliken, director of network engineering for Merit Network: “With these segments now lit, between both Round I and Round II Merit now has continuity from Cadillac through Mt. Pleasant and north to Mackinaw City, giving us a strong presence in Michigan’s Central and Northern Lower Peninsula to leverage and provide better service to our membership in this region of the state.”

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Utilizing the completed Round I REACH-3MC network and recently lit fiber crossing the Mackinaw Bridge obtained as part of the Round II REACH-3MC project, Merit now boasts a 10 gigabit (Gbps) core backbone spanning Monroe in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula into the Upper Peninsula.

Merit expects to announce completion on the remaining Round II REACH-3MC segments in Michigan’s Northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas later this summer.

In 2010, Merit Network received two federal stimulus awards totaling $102 million for REACH-3MC. The Rural, Education, Anchor, Community and Health care – Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative (REACH-3MC) will create 2,287 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure in rural and underserved areas throughout Michigan and provide backhaul to key interconnection 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. More at

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. Today, it provides high-performance networking to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

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