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RST Global Communications plans to light up the Carolinas

Executives at emerging fiber-based service provider RST Global Communications say they nearly have completed the first phase of a fiber-optic network roll out in southwestern North Carolina and now have set their sights on expansion – both in footprint and service mix.

CEO Dan Limerick and communications services veterans Doug Brown and Randy Revels founded RST Global Communications in their native Shelby, NC, in 2009 with the goal of bringing both connectivity and jobs to their hometown and the rest of Cleveland County. The county, in the Piedmont section of North Carolina south of Charlotte, has suffered economic hardship as the textile mills that had been the area’s primary employers have begun to close. However, several high-tech firms have discovered that former textile mills make good facilities for data centers and related high-tech enterprises. With companies such as Wipro, Google, Apple, Facebook, Walt Disney, and others moving into the region, Limerick and company saw an opportunity for an alternative carrier to supply secure, high-speed connectivity.

The privately funded venture focused first on Shelby, then connected its Real Fiber Network infrastructure there to a carrier hotel in Charlotte. Backbone links and middle-mile lines through the rest of Cleveland County and surrounding counties such as Gaston and Rutherford followed. The nearly 400 mi of infrastructure is notable for the fact that it is entirely underground – in fact, buried 10 ft deep to keep the cable away from back hoes and similar hazards. Limerick conceded to Lightwave in a conversation at the FTTH Conference in Dallas last week that this approach is about as expensive a way to install a new network as you can find. However, he said that Revels, who is the company’s CTO, had created ways to make the process economically feasible. Revels said directional drilling was one of the secrets to the process.

The company initially has focused on data center connectivity and other business services. Its customers include, but are not limited to, Infocrossing (a division of Wipro) as well as Gardner Webb University and Cleveland County College.

With this first phase of the network build nearly completed, the RST Global executives have their eyes on new opportunities. They believe the network is in prime position to support Duke Energy’s smart grid efforts, for example. They also see potential in the mobile backhaul market.

The RST Global Real Fiber Network currently supports 10-Gbps connections, with the backbone carrying multiple wavelengths at that speed. Limerick conceded that an increase in backbone capacity, likely to include 100-Gbps wavelength capabilities, will be needed in the future.

Part of the requirement for new capacity will come from the company’s upcoming foray into residential service provision via fiber to the home (FTTH). Limerick says that RST Global plans to offer residential services with download speeds as high as 1 Gbps in the near future using GPON gear supplied by Calix. The company also will offer a symmetrical 50-Mbps service for just under $60 a month.

The company also plans to expand its footprint further along one the state’s major arteries, I-85. The expansion will take the network east towards Greensboro and south towards Clemson, SC.

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