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Merit Network Lights REACH-3MC Network from Muskegon to Hart

ANN ARBOR -- Merit Network Inc. announced Friday the completion of approximately 43 miles of their REACH-3MC network build-out between Muskegon and Hart. Merit has completed construction on the segment and activated optical network equipment that is used to "light" the newly installed fiber and provide service.

The fiber-optic cable lit Friday is part of the 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.

Three community anchor institutions have received lateral connections along the completed network segment announced Friday. With the mainline now lit, Merit expects to have those three institutions transitioned to the new and improved service made possible by REACH-3MC within a week.

"I am proud to announce fiber continuity and lit service between Muskegon and Hart," said Michael Milliken, director of network engineering for Merit Network. "We are quickly completing segments on our Round 1 project and it's an exciting time for Merit and our Members."

The optical equipment activated today will give Merit the ability to light multiple 10 gigabit (Gbps) waves for communities along the REACH-3MC fiber route to leverage. Merit Member anchor institutions along this route will have 1 gigabit (Gbps) fiber-optic lateral connections to Merit's network.

Friday's announcement is the second major segment to be lit as part of the REACH-3MC project. Earlier last week, Merit successfully completed and lit a 135-mile span from Berrien Springs to Muskegon that included five connections to community anchor institutions.

Merit expects to announce several completed REACH-3MC segments in the coming weeks.

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

REACH-3MC is funded by two grants from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the federal stimulus.

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.

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

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