By Greg Monroe
On the morning of March 24, Merit Network's team of engineers lit a fiber-optic cable that connects Ferris State University to the high-speed "Blue Line" portion of Merit's backbone network.
The new link between Howard City and Big Rapids will provide Ferris State with unprecedented levels of connectivity to the state's other leading institutions of higher learning.
Merit Network, Michigan's longest-running research and education network, celebrates an important milestone marked by the long-awaited connection to Ferris State University: all Merit's public university members are now connected to Merit's backbone via fiber connection.
The "Blue Line" is part of a comprehensive network connecting Michigan's public universities by way of high-performance infrastructure. Boasting over 500 miles in total length, the seventeen-segment fiber-optic cable line equips the state's public university sites with a direct path to and from the network. This ensures that these universities, who act as Merit's governing members, will always retain a traffic-capacity of no less than one gigabit per second. The network's high-capacity, high-speed bandwidth will benefit institutions like Ferris State as it is essential to support the collaborative efforts of higher education in the twenty-first century.
"The 'Blue Line' has tripled, in some cases quadrupled network capacity, and reduced operating costs across the board," said Bob Stovall, vice president of network operations and engineering for Merit. "And it has the flexibility to meet the needs of our members far into the future."
With the addition of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, the "Blue Line" Network is now one step closer to completion. Construction is underway on two remaining segments. One will link Ferris State and Central Michigan University between Big Rapids and Mt. Pleasant; the other will connect Central Michigan's main campus in Mt. Pleasant to a satellite site in Midland. Merit expects these two projects to be completed within the coming month. Upon completion, the much-anticipated "Blue Line" will be fully-operational, finishing the project begun in April of 2005.
For a diagram of "Blue Line" network, please see: