Gov. Snyder announces MBA to partner with Merit Network to expand Internet service in Michigan

Contact: Bob Sweeney, MBA Executive Secretary,
sweeneyb@michigan.gov
906-643-7600
Agency: Transportation

Mighty Mac Fast Facts:
- Agreement will create or enhance Internet service in Michigan rural areas.
- Michigan will invest $247 million in federal broadband funding involving fiber-optic strands.
- Cables crossing the Mackinac Bridge provide a vital high-tech link for Michigan's peninsulas.

March 13, 2012 -- Gov. Rick Snyder announced today an agreement between the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) and Merit Network to create and enhance Internet service throughout Michigan. The deal allows Merit Network to purchase strands of cable crossing the Mackinac Bridge for use in the REACH-3MC fiber-optic broadband project.

"Michigan will be maximizing more than $247 million in federal broadband investments to bridge the urban-rural divide," said Gov. Rick Snyder. "In cooperation with our Michigan-based private partners, nearly 2,300 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure are being added to serve job creators and the Upper Peninsula."

MBA Board Chairman William H. Gnodtke said, "The Mackinac Bridge will again link our two great peninsulas and improve the ability for the citizens in Michigan, and future generations, to connect to our global economy."

Merit Network has been awarded two grants from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The grants, along with private investment by Merit Network and its project sub-recipients, are funding the two phases of the REACH-3MC project, which will build nearly 2,300 miles of open-access, fiber-optic infrastructure in rural and underserved communities in Michigan. Merit and its sub-recipients' total investment is approximately $130 million.

Merit Network President and CEO Donald Welch stated, "Just as the construction of the Mackinac Bridge itself had a profound impact on economic development and quality of life for the residents of Michigan, the REACH-3MC project will provide new opportunities for our state."

In October 2011, Gov. Snyder delivered a special message calling for the revitalization of Michigan's deteriorating infrastructure. Part of that message included the need to integrate the state's broadband telecommunications network, connecting every Michigan business and household to the Internet.

About Merit Network
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. Since its formation, Merit Network has remained on the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking solutions to Michigan's public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other nonprofit organizations. For more information: www.merit.edu.

About the Mackinac Bridge Authority
The Mackinac Bridge Authority is committed to preserving and maintaining the state of Michigan's single largest asset and one of the world's leading suspension bridges to provide safe, pleasurable and expedient passage over the Straits of Mackinac for economic benefit and improved quality of life. For more information: www.mackinacbridge.org.

MDOT reminds drivers: Snowplows need room to groom.