Merit Network is aiming to pass some significant milestones over the next year, expanding high-speed Internet access to northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
The Ann Arbor-based organization received $100 million in federal grants two years ago to spread fiber-optic lines across the northern section of Michigan, 1,000 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure across 29 counties. The idea is to help create more economic opportunity in these rural areas by increasing access to the Internet. Merit Network is set to wrap up that project by next summer.
"The big piece is finishing our fiber-optic infrastructure build out into northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula," says Elwood Downing, vice president of member relations, communications & services or Merit Network
. "It will help us stretch high-speed Internet into rural Michigan."
Merit Network also passed a significant milestone over the last year, crossing the 100 employee mark. It added a dozen new staffers in that time, expanding the employee base to 102 people and half a dozen interns with representatives all over Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula.
"We have increased our membership by a little more than 100 communities," Downing says. "We have also increased our outreach staff.
Merit Network manages high-bandwidth communication lines between the major universities in the Midwest, in cities like Ann Arbor, Chicago and Detroit.
Source: Elwood Downing, vice president of member relations, communications & services or Merit Network
Writer: Jon Zemke
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