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Posted on Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

Ann Arbor group secures access to Mackinac Bridge cables for broadband Internet project

By Nathan Bomey

Ann Arbor-based Merit Network has secured access to cables spanning the Mackinac Bridge in a key development allowing the not-for-profit to extend broadband Internet access to a variety of institutions in the Upper Peninsula.

Merit Network CEO Don Welch and Governor Jennifer Granholm in Ann Arbor .JPG

Merit Network CEO Don Welch speaks at a press conference in 2010 with then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Melanie Maxwell |

Merit in 2010 won more than $100 million in federal economic stimulus grants to construct a 1,210-mile high-speed fiber network in the U.P. with connections to Green Bay, Wisc. and Duluth, Minn. and a 1,017-mile network in the Lower Peninsula.

Merit today said it had struck a deal with the state's Mackinac Bridge Authority allowing Merit to purchase access to cable strands crossing the bridge.

"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," MBA board chairman William H. Gnodtke said in a statement.

Merit is a 46-year-old nonprofit whose core objective is to broaden high-speed Internet access and connect educators, researchers, businesses and community members.

The company's U.P. network expansion, called the REACH-3MC II project, is a way to "provide new opportunities for our state," Merit CEO Don Welch said in a statement.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Wed, Mar 14, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

Come on, Nathan. Isn't there a better file picture of Don Welch? Red-orange is not very flattering to him. . . : 0


Wed, Mar 14, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

Good news for the mail-order pasty business.


Wed, Mar 14, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

This is good news, the UP needs broadband. The first image that came to my mind was the suspension cables on the bridge, and all I could think was "those are BIG pipes".