ANN ARBOR (WWJ) — Merit Network, Inc. announced the completion of three key segments of its Round II REACH-3MC network build-out: Grand Rapids to Big Rapids, Rose City to Oscoda, and Hillman to Posen.

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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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 three community anchor institutions have received lateral connections along the completed network segments announced today. 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 two institutions transitioned to the new and improved service made possible by REACH-3MC within two weeks.

The connection between Grand Rapids and Big Rapids announced today will provide Merit governing members Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University with additional redundancy. Merit plans to have these  paths lit at 10 Gbps speeds in the future.

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Michael Milliken, director of network engineering for Merit Network, said the latest segments to be lit “provide an additional 200 miles of critical infrastructure that strengthen Merit’s REACH-3MC footprint in the Lower Peninsula. We now have geographically diverse, redundant paths between Traverse City and Mount Pleasant and multiple redundant connections out of Big Rapids and Grand Rapids to better serve our Members. The resiliency and quality of the network in these locations translates to superior service.”

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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