Fiber-optic installation speeds up northern Michigan

Merit Network helps rural communities get better access.

Merit Network recently announced the completion of their Round 1 REACH-3MC construction. This infrastructure is installed with fiber-optic cable along the 1,017-mile network extension through rural and underserved areas in northern Michigan, including all 55 fiber-optic lateral connections to Merit Members from the middle-mile infrastructure.

The Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, a partner of Michigan State University Extension, has been working with Merit Network to gain more accessibility for their region through the new fiber optic system.


The completion of this network installation moves northern Michigan further in the competition for new businesses in the state. This allows areas that would have previously be inaccessible for businesses that require high speed and fiber optic internet service to become favorable locations.

“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 for “light” service.

The REACH Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative (REACH-3MC) constructs 2,287 miles of open-access, advanced fiber-optic network through rural and underserved communities in Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas. Led by Merit Network, Michigan’s research and education network, REACH-3MC will make broadband readily available to households and businesses that lack adequate service options in the 52 counties that make up the project service area. For more information visit

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