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Merit Network Installs First REACH-3MC II 'Telecom Hut' in Escanaba

ESCANABA -- Merit Network Inc. announced the installation of the first telecommunications hut as part of the REACH-3MC II broadband stimulus project. The hut was successfully deployed on the campus of Bay de Noc Community College.

In addition to the site placement in Escanaba, telecommunications huts will be installed in the following communities along the REACH-3MC II fiber route: Crystal Falls, Engadine, Iron Mountain, Ironwood and Manistique in Michigan, and Ashland, Marinette, and Poplar in Wisconsin.

The telecommunications huts will help Merit Network fulfill the REACH-3MC II goal of improved service to underserved communities. The huts are essential to providing service to community anchor institutions, homes, businesses and local ISPs in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin.

Equipment to be housed in the telecommunications huts includes signal regeneration, colocation gear and other "optronics" that Merit Network and REACH-3MC II Sub-recipients will use to power their next generation, fiber-optic networks. The huts also protect the network from uncertainty by providing a permanent location for critical network gear.

The huts are prefabricated units, Precision Quincy XP Series. Precision Quincy has manufactured the huts to custom meet the needs of the REACH-3MC II project.

Earthcom Inc. of Lansing performed the installation in Escanaba. Earthcom was selected through an open RFP process as telecommunications hut vendor for REACH-3MC II. They will lead the installation of the remaining REACH-3MC II huts in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin.

REACH-3MC II telecommunications huts are jointly owned by Merit Network Inc. and REACH-3MC II Sub-recipient, Peninsula Fiber Network.

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 solutions to Michigan's public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

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The Rural, Education, Anchor, Community and Heathcare - Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative (REACH-3MC) will build 2,287 miles of open-access, advanced fiber-optic network through rural and underserved communities in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. 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, 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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