A high-speed Internet network built on a skeleton of buried fiber-optic cable that will be open to commercial traffic from Manteo to Murphy is in the process of being launched across North Carolina.
Once complete, it will be the first statewide network built with fiber. Other Internet Service Providers have offered connectivity over the years, but in restricted – generally urban or affulent – areas.
The builder is privately held RST Global Communications, which is based in Shelby.
“We deliver a 100 percent underground fiber optic network with speeds more than 100 times faster than the average service offered by competing companies,” the company says.
RST’s network map (included in this post) shows hundreds of miles of fiber, some of which is leased from MCNC, which recently completed expansion of the North Carolina Research and Education Network. However, NCREN is not open for commercial use. NCREN does, however, enable private sector firms to lease so-called “dark fiber,” or unused strands within the network.
RST also says it utilized mergers and acquisitions in putting together the network and has invested “tens of millions of dollars” of private sector capital for the project.
WRALTechWire talked with RST CEO Dan Limerick about the project.
What were the key reasons behind your reason to expand across N.C. (and parts of S.C.)?
As native North Carolinians, we are passionate that the expansion will meet the needs of all North Carolina residents regardless of location and income. We believe fiber infrastructure is the answer to future prosperity and levels the playing field for broadband connectivity for all in the state.
Why did you choose to ride on MCNC network?
We’re not riding on MCNC’s network; we’re just using dark fibers from them to run our network. RST has a very specific build model and MCNC’s all-underground network meets our requirements. Also, the completed network covers North Carolina entirely from the coast to the mountains.
Based on your network map, much of your expansion seems to be fiber you are “lighting” over MCNC’s network, correct? If so, how many miles?
Our aggressive growth was made possible through additional RST network builds and recent mergers and acquisitions including the areas where we have the IRU with MCNC.
Are you working with other networks such as Duke Net? If so, please explain.
We are building our network and maintaining the quality standards we have set. It is important to us that all our middle miles and backbone miles are completely underground. Currently, no other networks in our service plan model are entirely underground.
Based on your map, it appears you have the potential to be the only provider of Internet access that reaches across all parts of the state. Is that correct?
Yes, that is correct.
Will the network be a hybrid of fiber, wireless and other means of access?
Currently, the network is all fiber, but there are future plans to include wireless at end points directly to the customer. We will offer wireless when the economics makes sense.
Do you plan home and business end-user service across the network or will you be seeking partners in communities?
In most cases, we are seeking partners in communities. RST would like to take our service into rural communities and hand off our services to local providers when possible.
What is the rollout schedule for nodes on the network to service consumers and businesses?
We are in the rollout process today. We anticipate points all over the state being hooked up before the end of the year.
How much is your company investing in this rollout?
Tens of millions of dollars have been spent from private sources.
How is the company financed?
The company is privately financed by the founders.
Can you disclose financial terms and length of agreement with MCNC?
We do not disclose financial terms of any of the contracts or agreements that we are engaged in.