Merit Network


The Merit Network is a non-profit organization based in Michigan, United States, founded in 1966. It primarily focuses on providing high-speed research, education, and government computer networks. The network connects educational institutions, libraries, healthcare organizations, and other public sector organizations to facilitate collaboration, resource sharing, and innovative technological solutions.

Key Takeaways

  1. Merit Network is a non-profit organization that provides high-performance networking and IT services to research, education, and public sector institutions.
  2. It was initially established in 1966 as a collaboration between Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University to advance networking technology and share resources.
  3. Merit Network manages and operates one of the longest-running regional research and education networks in the United States, providing key services such as internet connectivity, network security, and cloud solutions to its member institutions.


The Merit Network is an important technology term as it represents one of the earliest and longest-running regional computer networks in the United States.

Established in 1966 as a collaborative effort by Michigan-based universities, it aimed to create a shared resource for their technological needs and facilitate effective communication among its members.

Over time, the Merit Network expanded and played a crucial role in the development of the Internet, as it connected to other regional networks, ultimately forming a national network infrastructure.

Its historical significance, contributions to technological advancements, and focus on continuous improvement of networking services underscore its importance in the realm of technology.


The primary purpose of Merit Network is to provide a robust, secure and high-performance network infrastructure that enables seamless communication and collaboration among research and educational institutions. Established in 1966, Merit Network has grown into a crucial resource for academic organizations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations, enabling them to enhance their research capabilities, share information and resources, and maintain a strong online presence.

Today, Merit Network serves as a backbone for many nationwide and regional networks, connecting various institutions and fostering innovation, learning, and development. Additionally, the Merit Network caters to the broader research and education community by offering a wide range of services such as cloud connectivity, security services, and professional development programs.

These services play a significant role in helping organizations to optimize their network performance, protect sensitive data, and remain up-to-date with technological advancements. In essence, Merit Network is pivotal to promoting collaboration, driving technology adoption, and encouraging the exchange of knowledge across diverse communities and industries.

Examples of Merit Network

Michigan LambdaRail (MiLR): In 2004, the Merit Network, in partnership with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, created the Michigan LambdaRail (MiLR), a high-speed optical network dedicated to research and education. MiLR’s purpose was to efficiently support demanding research applications and collaboration, and it connected the partner institutions at speeds up to 40 Gbps.

REACH-3MC Project: Merit Network successfully led the REACH-3MC Project (Rural, Education, Anchor, Community and Healthcare – Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative) starting in

This project, funded by a combination of federal and state grants, resulted in the expansion of Merit’s fiber-optic network infrastructure across underserved areas of Michigan, providing advanced network connectivity to schools, universities, libraries, healthcare facilities and public safety organizations. The project created a more connected and collaborative environment for the state’s educational and research organizations.

MI-SBDC Cyber Security Awareness Training: In 2018, Merit Network partnered with the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) to deliver cybersecurity awareness training to small and medium-sized businesses in the state. Leveraging Merit’s knowledge and expertise in cybersecurity, the program offered training sessions and resources, helping businesses improve their network security posture and reduce risks associated with cyber threats. This collaboration demonstrates Merit Network’s ongoing commitment to fostering a safer and more secure internet environment for the community.

Merit Network FAQ

What is Merit Network?

Merit Network is a non-profit, member-owned organization that provides high-performance networking and IT solutions to educational, research, government, and non-profit institutions. Founded in 1966, it has a long history of serving the community with cutting-edge technology and services.

What services does Merit Network offer?

Merit Network offers a wide range of services, including high-speed network connectivity, cybersecurity solutions, cloud services, data center and colocation services, voice services, and professional development and training in advanced IT and networking skills.

Who can join Merit Network?

Membership in Merit Network is open to non-profit organizations across the country, including educational institutions, research organizations, government agencies, and community anchor institutions. Merit Network primarily serves the research and education community but also provides services to healthcare, libraries, public safety, and other non-profit sectors.

What are the benefits of joining Merit Network?

By joining Merit Network, members gain access to a high-performance network with advanced security features, a broad range of IT services and resources, and opportunities for collaboration with a diverse community of organizations. Members also receive support from Merit’s expert staff, access to exclusive events and training, and the opportunity to influence the direction and development of the organization.

How does Merit Network support research and education?

Merit Network supports research and education by providing a robust, high-speed network infrastructure that enables data-intensive collaborations, online learning, and access to cutting-edge research resources. In addition, Merit offers professional development opportunities and training that helps to build a skilled IT workforce and strengthen the research and education community.

Related Technology Terms

  • Internet2
  • Network Infrastructure
  • Educational Institutions
  • Regional Networks

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