Community meeting to focus on fiber-optic network

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:19 AM

The meeting will provide an overview of Merit Network’s REACH-3MC broadband project and the collaboration between Merit, the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg and other local organizations that has resulted in an approved route through the city.

Merit Network will offer local institutions a connection to their high-speed backbone and interconnection with hundreds of other institutions throughout the state. The company will also enable them to cut costs through collaboration and resource sharing.

“There are a number of public institutions in the Grand Haven area that are in need of expanded service,” said Joy Gaasch, president of the local Chamber of Commerce. “The way libraries operate has changed so much over the last decade. The libraries here are very interested in what Merit brings to the community.”

In 2010, Merit Network Inc. received two federal grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 totaling more than $100 million for Merit’s REACH-3MC broadband project.

The project is a collaboration that will build broadband infrastructure in many parts of the state. The first grant for $33.3 million will enable the construction of a 1,017-mile open-access network in the Lower Peninsula. A second grant worth $69.6 million will be used to add an additional 1,270 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure in the northern Lower and Upper peninsulas.

Initially, project planners at Merit Network were forced to route the network around Grand Haven due to issues posed by crossing the Grand River with fiber-optic line — which included environmental concerns, costs and timing.

“Prior to the project, we knew that there were issues with broadband technology in Grand Haven,” Gaasch said. “Companies knew they would need new service to continue to compete. As a chamber, we wanted to find a way to work together as a group and find a way to reroute the fiber back through Grand Haven.”

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


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