Ann Arbor's Merit Network looks to complete statewide fiberoptics network

Merit Network, an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit owned by the state's public universities, is further expanding into the upper peninsula of Michigan as it continues building one of the largest fiber optic networks in the country.

The 2,297-mile fiber-optic line will run across the state of Michigan and bring access to technology to more people than ever.

The BTOP (Broadband Technology Opportunities Program) project is a partnership between Merit, its subcontractors, and the federal government, which has awarded $102 million to Merit to build the network. Merit and its partners put in a 20-percent match to design and lay the network, which will serve 52 counties in the lower and upper peninsulas.

"The economic development opportunity that this infrastructure brings to the area is significant," says Elwood Downing, vice president of member relations, communications and services at Merit, in a statement.

Merit currently provides connectivity to universities and school districts in the U.P. Its decision to open an office there and appoint a member relations manager is aimed at making the UP and Michigan an appealing place to live and work.

Merit Network owns and operates America's longest-running regional research and education system and provides networking services to universities, college, school districts, libraries, state government, and health care and nonprofit organizations.

Sources: Patty Giorgio, spokesperson, Merit Network
Writer: Kim North Shine
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