$10.5MM Federal Grant Awarded to MSU and Merit Network to Deliver Statewide Broadband Infrastructure June 27, 2022

Project to create Michigan Open Optical Network – Leveraging Innovation to Get High-Speed Technology (MOON-Light)

East Lansing, Mich., June 27, 2022 – Merit Network and Michigan State University are 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.

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.

“The MOON-Light initiative will have a transformational impact across the state in providing Internet access and is a true force-multiplier for upcoming ISP last-mile projects,” said Joseph Sawasky, president and CEO, Merit Network. “We are privileged to partner with Michigan State University and the MSU Quello Center on this initiative that is one of the first-of-its-kind in the nation. With non-profit and cooperative organizations working together with commercial ISPs, we are uniquely positioned to reduce costs and accelerate broadband projects for Michigan in model public-private partnerships. This project sets a strategic digital foundation for Michigan and will create a statewide ‘digital autobahn’. Our goal is to actually #FixTheDamnInternet for citizens and learners. We are incredibly thankful for the continuing trust that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has placed in our vision.”

“Closing the digital divide is essential to the future success of our state and our young people,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “When we partner together to solve our state’s most pressing challenges, we create a place that is full of opportunity – for all people and businesses. This partnership is a prime example of that and MSU is proud to play a role in this effort to connect Michigan.”

Letters of intent from several ISPs including Highline, Barger Creek and Northern Michigan University have already been signed to further the public-private collaboration of MOON-Light.

This project leverages funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP), one of the earliest of the recent infrastructure programs. BIP was a precursor to theInfrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Biden on November 15, 2021.

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. [Read the full announcement at Merit | News]

UETN Board Appoints Spencer Jenkins as the new UETN CEO and Executive Director June 21, 2022

The governing board of the Utah Education and Telehealth Network appointed Spencer Jenkins as the new UETN CEO and Executive Director.

(SALT LAKE CITY) – Jenkins, who is Associate Commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education, succeeds Dr. Ray Timothy who is retiring July 1. Timothy has served as UETN’s CEO for the past decade.

Jenkins holds an MBA in Technology Management from Westminster College. He also earned two Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Utah, one in political science and a second in economics. He also holds a PMP Certification in project management.

“We are delighted to congratulate Spencer Jenkins,” said UETN Board Chair Robert Wagner. “We have enjoyed interviewing a diverse group of candidates and are assured that he is eminently qualified to lead UETN forward. Jenkins stood out above other candidates because of his exceptional experience in working with the Utah State Legislature, other state agencies, and the state’s broad educational community.”

Jenkins has overseen government affairs, student affairs, COVID-19 response and planning, operations, project management, public affairs and communication, student engagement, community and business engagement for the Utah System of Higher Education. His is a former executive director of the Utah Geographic Reference Center. [Read the full announcement on UEN | News]

The Quilt welcomes Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON) June 20, 2022

SEATTLE, Wash. and BOISE, Idaho (June 20, 2022) – The Quilt, a consortium of regional Research and Education (R&E) Networks throughout the United States, today announced that the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON) has become latest member organization to join The Quilt.

“We’re so pleased that IRON has elected to join our diverse membership,” said Jen Leasure, president and CEO of The Quilt. “The Quilt is a national community of innovators with a long track record of success as our members and affiliates collaborate to develop, deploy and operate advanced research and education (R&E) networks throughout the United States. We are looking forward to learning from IRON and their experiences as a new collaborator and contributor to The Quilt community.”

Headquartered in Boise, the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON) provides significant opportunities for higher education, health care, state and local government, research facilities, and other nonprofits by providing reliable Internet access and high-speed infrastructure throughout the state. Established in 2007, IRON’s principle founders include: Boise State University, Brigham Young University – Idaho, Idaho Hospital Association, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho State University, State of Idaho, University of Idaho, and Washington State University. In 2015, IRON completed a state-wide upgrade to its network, which included new access points in Twin Falls on the College of Southern Idaho campus and at Idaho Falls connecting associate locations of a variety of universities and research facilities. By 2019, the network was fully upgraded to 100G statewide.

“IRON is proud to join The Quilt,” said Brent Stacey, IRON President and CEO. “The Quilt has proven to be a highly collaborative and professional organization enabling research and education across the country. Our missions are the same. IRON looks forward to contributing to and benefiting from our association with the Quilt Community.”

IRON, with its grassroots community-led members, is a not-for-profit corporation. Since its founding, its goal has been to provide high-speed and low-cost network access for higher education, research and healthcare institutions. Its mission, however, has always been to support Idaho’s unique challenges in crossing the digital divide. As a result of its success in the research and higher education fields, IRON is well positioned to provide network access to other nonprofits that are in need right now.

For a complete list of members and affiliates of The Quilt, visit this website. If you interested in becoming a member, please visit the Become a Member page online.


About The Quilt
The Quilt is the national coalition of advanced regional networks for research and education, representing 36 networks across the country. Participants in The Quilt provide advanced network services and applications to more than 250 universities and thousands of other educational institutions throughout the United States. Visit and follow at Twitter @TweetTheQuilt.