WiMAX Extended to Houghton, Internet Upgrade Completed


In recent technology-related developments, NMU’s WiMAX capability has extended to the Houghton area.  Also, the university has upgraded its primary Internet connection from 1 gigabits per second to 10 Gbps.

According to Dave Maki (Information Technology-Technical Services), a company named BBTelsys is leasing WiMAX spectrum from the intermediate school district in Houghton with plans to sell it for business use. The company contacted NMU for assistance because of the university’s experience operating its own WiMAX network. 

“They paid us to run the equipment and as part of the deal, Northern and the school district get free access,” said Maki. “That access will remain in effect when they sell it. There’s no restriction up there that WiMAX can only be used non-commercially for education, government or police and fire services. They can use it for business.”

BBTelsys is based in Grand Rapids. The company’s website describes its range of business services and states its products “are enabled for any high-speedi Internet connection including WiMAX, Wi-Fi and other wireless technology while adopting open standards for fixed-mobile communications using smart phones.”

Upgrading the primary Internet from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps allows NMU to connect to the other public universities in Michigan and to the commodity Internet at a higher speed and with a higher capacity link. A gigabit per second is the equivalent of one billion bits per second or 1,000 megabits per second. 

“For comparison’s sake, a good residential cable modem or DSL modem might get speeds around 20 Mbps,” said John Marra (Information Technology-Technical Services). “Our new connection, expressed in terms of megabits, would be 10,240 Mbps.”


NMU worked with its service provider, Merit, to complete phases of the project. Merit provides Internet for all of Michigan’s public universities, along with many libraries, local governments and K-12 educational environments. The 10-fold upgrade in speed is part of Merit’s broader REACH-3MC fiber-optic infrastructure project in the Upper Peninsula.



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Updated: January 19, 2012

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