MSU and Merit Receive $10.5M Grant to Enable Statewide Improved Internet

MSU and Merit Receive $10.5M Grant to Enable Statewide Improved Internet

MICHIGAN - Merit Network and Michigan State University are now joint recipients of a $10.5 million National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Infrastructure Program Grant that will connect Michigan’s many disparate internet pathways.

As the State of Michigan continues to prepare for federally funded broadband investments, MSU and Merit proactively and independently applied for the NTIA grant to move things ahead faster.

“MSU is committed to creating a world in which all can thrive, especially Michigan communities. By receiving the NTIA grant, we’re able to forge a more equitable path forward,” said Melissa Woo, executive vice president for administration, chief information officer, and Chair of the Merit Network Board of Directors.

“This solution enables equal and open access to broadband services to all Michiganders and can be leveraged to deliver education, healthcare, and employment services.”

This program, named the Michigan Open Optical Network - Leveraging Innovation to get High-Speed Technology, (MOON-Light), will help address critical infrastructure gaps by enabling technologically advanced, middle-mile fiber-optic infrastructure across the state.

It will allow interconnecting local internet service providers (ISPs) to bring affordable, robust, high-speed broadband internet to homes and businesses in Michigan’s underserved/unserved population areas.

Entire regions across Michigan lack high-performance fiber optical connections to the internet through mainline attachments, (“middle-mile” infrastructure), and many residents remain unserved with approximately 380,000 lacking any connectivity to their homes and businesses, (“last mile” infrastructure).

One of the regions included locally is Ingham County. In some areas of Ingham County, high-speed internet is not available for residents. Ingham County needs to gain a better picture of which properties do not have the essential internet they need by sending out the Broadband Census survey to residents for data and tracking.

"The Broadband Census allows us to determine what exactly needs to be done for Ingham County’s broadband infrastructure," said Gregg Todd, Ingham County Administrator/Controller.

"Grant funding is what we need in order to fund programs, but the Broadband Census is what gives us the data and knowledge to know what and where that funding needs to be applied if and when we receive it," said Todd.

"The more Broadband Censuses we receive, the better we will be able to serve Ingham County and address its needs to the utmost capability."

Unlike closed (private) infrastructure that offers services from a single service provider to residents, the MOON-Light network will provide regional connectivity through an open-access network approach. Open-access networks (OANs), are high-performance networks that are open to multiple providers that leverage the infrastructure to offer high-capacity broadband services to residents and businesses.

The project deploys equipment only on a statewide scale and requires no additional middle-mile fiber construction. Implementation is expected to take 12 months.


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