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1st hut of broadband stimulus project installed

October 4, 2012
Ilsa Matthes - staff writer ( , Daily Press

ESCANABA - A telecommunications hut was installed at Bay College Wednesday morning. It is the first hut of the REACH-3MC II broadband stimulus project, which will bring increased Internet speeds and greater connectivity to educational institutions, non-profits and residents of the Upper Peninsula.

The hut was installed by Earthcom, Inc.of Lansing and is jointly owned by Merit Network, Inc. and Peninsula Fiber Network. PFN operates more than 800 miles of fiber-optic cables and provides telecommunication services to 20 cities in the U.P. Merit Network is a non-profit corporation owned and governed by Michigan's public universities, which operates the regional research and education network.

Each custom designed hut is 10 feet by 20 feet, has electrical access, and air conditioning. "It's going to house all of the optical equipment," said Patty Giorgio, public relations and community development manager for Merit Network.

Article Photos

Ilsa Matthes | Daily Press Heavy fog Wednesday morning did not stop the installation of a telecommunications hut at Bay College.

Even though Merit Network is owned by Michigan colleges and universities, they have chosen to use the hut for storage rather than the college itself.

"We can't ask them to allow people in and out of the college 24/7, and we need to be able to access it 24/7 in case some maintenance needs to occur," said Giorgio.

The Escanaba hut is one of eight huts planned for the U.P. and northern Wisconsin. Eventually, Bay College will host a second hut at Bay College West in Iron Mountain. Other huts will be located in Crystal Falls, Engadine, Manistique, Ashland, Marinette, and Poplar, Wis.

Bay College will directly benefit from the Merit Network upgrades and the hut. The Escanaba campus will see an increase in bandwidth from 100Mbps to 1Gbps - approximately 10 times more data per second.

"Increasing our bandwidth allows our users to have more access to the Internet and to resources on the Internet, and use those resources more effectively," said Chris Williams, chief information officer for Bay College.

Fiber-optic cables like the ones used in the REACH-3MC II project operate by sending pulses of light down strands of optically pure glass or plastic. The strands carry the information at the speed of light, and allow for more information to be transmitted with less data loss than slower broadband systems using copper wire.

The REACH-3MC project will build 2,287 miles of open-access, fiber-optic network through rural and underserved communities in the Lower and Upper Peninsulas. Community anchors, such as libraries, health care facilities, and other non-profits, as well as universities and research institutions, will be connected to the network.

For more information about Merit Network and the REACH-3MC projects visit



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