Skip Global Navigation
REACH-3MC Project Updates
Merit hosts REACH-3MC Press Event in Mackinaw City and St. IgnaceOn April 30, 2013, Merit Network, along with the Mackinaw City and St. Ignace communities, celebrated the completed segments of the REACH-3MC project with a press event held simultaneously at the Mackinaw Area Public Library and St. Ignace Public Library. The two locations were linked via video, with Senator Carl Levin making opening comments remotely from Washington, D.C.
View photos of the April 30, 2013 Press Event
Representatives from Merit, libraries, schools systems, townships, political offices and the Mackinac Bridge Authority made statements on the positive impacts the REACH-3MC project will have on Northern Michigan.
Last Modified: 2013-05-03 15:47:17
Merit Completes Round 1 REACH-3MC ConstructionMerit announced today the completion of Round 1 REACH-3MC construction. All infrastructure is installed with fiber-optic cable along the 1,017-mile network extension through rural and underserved areas in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, including all 55 fiber-optic lateral connections to Merit Members from the middle-mile infrastructure.
"Merit is proud to announce the completion of Round 1 REACH-3MC construction," said Elwood Downing, vice president of outreach and member engagement for Merit. "Merit began REACH-3MC with a belief in equal access to information for all in Michigan and a vision to better support and grow the Merit community. The fiber miles announced today and the connections to our Members throughout Michigan are the culmination of a great project design and a great deal of hard work on the part of Merit and our community."
"This great accomplishment would not be possible without the hard work of Merit staff and our construction contractors, the cooperation of our REACH-3MC Sub-recipients, and the assistance of the many utility companies, State organizations and local municipalities who assisted with permitting," said Bob Stovall, vice president of network engineering and operations for Merit. "This is truly a collective milestone for Michigan."
The project now enters the final testing and acceptance phase, in which all fiber strands undergo OTDR (optical time-domain reflectometer) testing to ensure proper installation and ideal performance.
Both Merit and REACH-3MC Round 1 Sub-recipients are currently using active fibers across the REACH-3MC network to "light" service to current Members and customers. The final testing phase will verify the remaining fiber strands and engage REACH-3MC construction vendors to make any necessary repairs under their installation warranty.
Following testing and acceptance, the Round 1 REACH-3MC project will enter the final close-out period of the grant, which includes payment of final invoices and an audit of project financials by the federal grant agency.
Last Modified: 2013-04-08 15:35:29
Bayliss Public Library Boasts New Fiber-Optic ConnectionMerit announced that it has connected Bayliss Public Library with a new fiber-optic lateral as part of the REACH-3MC project.
The connection was successfully "lit" with service in late January. The newly constructed lateral has a whopping capacity of a 1 gigabit per second (Gbps).
For Bayliss Public Library Director, Ken Miller, that is quite a jump:
"We have seen an immediate difference in the new connection. It was a smooth transition. No glitches. This was a great experience because we demonstrated a need, and Merit responded to that need."
"It's just wonderful to see libraries like Bayliss get fiber connections because they are such a hub for their communities. For many residents, the library is the only place where they can access the Internet," said Jim Lundberg, Upper Peninsula member relations manager for Merit.
"Merit is very proud to support our Member, Bayliss Public Library. We have worked with Ken and the staff at Bayliss for many years and we are excited to take the next step with them in offering improved service to their community," said Elwood Downing, Vice President of outreach and member engagement for Merit.
Prior to the new Merit connection, the library had to make do with two T1 lines. Both lines had a combined capacity of approximately 3 megabits per second (Mbps). And due to the lack of bandwidth capacity, Bayliss regularly experienced slow-downs in their service.
Miller remembers an important meeting he had with Jim Lundberg and Elwood Downing of Merit. In that meeting, they examined Bayliss Public Library's usage graph, a tool Merit provides its Members that charts their connections and how much bandwidth they are using.
"For the past couple of years, the graph would go up to about 3 Mbps and then it was as if someone had cut it down with a lawn mower," Miller explained.
"When we showed the graph to Elwood and Jim, they gasped. Then they said, 'We've got to fix this.' "
Merit included Bayliss Public Library in their Round II REACH-3MC project. REACH-3MC is funded in part by two grants from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, also known as the Stimulus Package.
REACH-3MC builds nearly 2,287 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure through rural and underserved areas of Michigan. Additionally it provides direct, fiber-optic connections to 143 community anchor institutions (CAIs), which are schools, colleges, health care facilities, state and local government, non-profit service organizations and libraries like Bayliss.
"Our matching funds for the lateral were in the range of $1,200. Other companies quoted us upwards of $30,000 for a similar connection. There's no way we could have been able to afford this without Merit's help," Miller said.
With the new connection in place, Miller and his staff at Bayliss are excited to provide better service to their patrons. One thing that they have wanted to do for a long time but have lacked the bandwidth to do so is make Bayliss Public Library programs available via video conference. That programming includes speakers, authors, music and a community health series with War Memorial Hospital.
"We are cautious about technology because it often promises more than it can give, but this connection is not in that category. It is a boon for the library and can stretch our programming budget farther."
In addition to Bayliss, there are six branches in the Bayliss Public Library system spanning large areas of Chippewa and Mackinaw Counties.
"Our farthest branch is 82 miles away, while the closest is 23 miles. So this kind of connectivity is important to us," Miller added.
Last Modified: 2013-03-27 13:55:40
REACH-3MC Project Update Archive
You can also use Progress Report Archive to view past updates.