OARnet and Merit Network Light Fiber-Optic Connection in Hillsdale

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Dec 18, 2013) — 

Merit Network Inc. and the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet) announced today that they have completed construction and lit optical equipment providing a secondary connection between their respective networks.

"Merit has long had a strong collaborative relationship with OARnet, our sister network in Ohio," stated Bob Stovall, vice president of network operations and engineering for Merit Network. "This additional connection between our organizations is another step in increasing the collaboration opportunities for us and our Members. The new connection in Hillsdale provides both organizations with increased redundancy for our networks, this is important in our efforts to ensure we continue to provide a resilient network for our communities."

The additional connection between Merit and OARnet, a member of Ohio Technology Consortium, is located at Hillsdale College. As part of the Merit REACH-3MC project, Merit not only built a network route across the southern border counties, including Hillsdale County, but was also able to rent collocation space for network equipment at Hillsdale College.

In collaboration with Merit and Hillsdale College, OARnet has also arranged for collocation space at Hillsdale College, providing the location for both networks to interconnect. This additional connection now provides the Hillsdale community with four redundant network paths in and out of the county.

Merit and Hillsdale College haMap of networks in Hillsdale areave an extensive relationship, dating back over 20 years. Merit connected the college to Merit's backbone network and later helped foster collaboration in the community that would connect the City of Hillsdale and Hillsdale Intermediate School District.

"Hillsdale College has been a Merit member since 1992," stated David Zenz, executive director of information technology services for Hillsdale College, "and it was always a dream to figure out some way to eliminate expensive data circuit costs to free up funds to purchase more bandwidth. In 2008 The City of Hillsdale, the Hillsdale Intermediate School District, Hillsdale College, and Merit figured out how to do just that."

The idea of a connection between OARnet, Merit's network, and the fiber-optic network collaborative in Hillsdale grew out of planning for the REACH-3MC network, and after a few years of hard work, the project is now a reality. The network connection in Hillsdale now provides superior redundancy and performance for organizations in Hillsdale.

"Merit and OARnet have always looked for innovative ways to collaborate to provide better services to their end-users," said Pankaj Shah, executive director of the Ohio Supercomputer Center and OARnet. "The connection is another exemplary effort between Merit and OARnet, further cementing the relationship between two leading networks in the Midwest. Hillsdale offers OARnet numerous benefits, from increased connectivity to network resources in Chicago to improved robustness of our circuits throughout Northwest Ohio."

"Merit's REACH-3MC project not only provided improved broadband access to much of the un-served regions of our state, but the connection to OARnet in Hillsdale has also allowed both organizations an opportunity to improve service to our Member institutions in both states," stated Don Welch, president and CEO of Merit Network.

"Only in the digital age could a little community on the digital frontier come to be one of the best connected locations in the country. That is just plain 'cool!' " stated Zenz.

Merit Network, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan's public universities. Merit 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 and IT solutions to Michigan's public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations. For more information: www.merit.edu

The Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet), a member of the Ohio Technology Consortium at the Ohio Board of Regents, provides technology solutions for Ohio's education, public broadcasting, health care and government communities. Since 1987, OARnet has identified and deployed shared services that reduce costs, deliver quality programs, increase productivity and improve customer service. Communities voluntarily participate in the OARnet consortium because they value these benefits and services. Ultimately, OARnet promotes community and economic development by expanding access to affordable technology. For more, visit: www.oar.net

This story adapted from a release issued by Merit Network, Inc.

Contact Information: 

Elwood Downing • Merit Network, Inc. • Phone: (734)527-5702 • Email: edowning@merit.edu
Jamie Abel • Ohio Technology Consortium • Phone: (614)292-6495 • Email: jabel@oh-tech.org