Shelby Star (Online) – October 19, 2012
Company’s new fiber network promises to connect residents, businesses to world
High-definition movie downloads in 15 seconds.
Crisp television, phone and gaming services.
A speedy Internet connection that opens new teleconferencing opportunities for schools, medical facilities and other businesses.
A relatively new Cleveland County company promises all of those things and more by connecting the county to the world through a fiber optic broadband network.
And local leaders say the county and its residents will reap the benefits.
RST Global Communications — founded by county natives Dan Limerick, Doug Brown and Randy Revels in 2009 — recently completed the first portion of an underground, 100 percent fiber optic network that will provide broadband Internet, phone and TV services to residents and businesses. Limerick, RST’s CEO, said the network is already available to residents of north Shelby, Boiling Springs, Kings Mountain and other neighborhoods.
“This is going to open up a whole new spectrum in educational instruction and telemedicine, as well as how you’re able to connect in your home,” Limerick said. “We want to make sure everyone has access to the knowledge with the Internet, because knowledge is power. We feel like it will give the people of Cleveland, Gaston and Rutherford counties a tremendous advantage.”
‘Proving the concept’
RST began physical construction of the fiber optic network March 1, 2010.
Now, more than 400 total miles of fiber are underground in the region.
RST says it has already connected about 60 neighborhoods and plans to connect many more. RST did not meet The Star’s request for complete information about neighborhoods in which the services are available, referring customers to the company’s website for more information.
“It’s going to accelerate to Gaston and Mecklenburg counties,” Limerick said. “The focus now is on Cleveland and proving the concept here before moving on.”
Limerick said RST will initially offer a limited residential television package with regional broadcast channels and top cable channels, then offer other channels on a customer’s personal demands, something the company calls “a la carte.”
He said Internet service and network speeds will stretch from a 50 megabyte-per-second minimum and continue up to 10 gigabytes per second.
“There’s simply an insatiable appetite from all types of businesses, content suppliers and consumers for increased high speed and bandwidth capacity,” Limerick said.
‘Rebranding of Cleveland County’
Wipro’s data center in the Kings Mountain area is one of the first companies connected to RST’s fiber optic network, but officials believe many more are to come.
“The broadband infrastructure investment that is being made by RST will essentially be an inhibitor to the rebranding of Cleveland County as a locale for the digital economy,” said Kristin Fletcher, executive vice president of the Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership. “Having this technological infrastructure in place, and becoming a wired community sends this message to the world: ‘We’re seriously open for business.’”
Limerick said a growing data center presence in Kings Mountain – with Disney and AT&T joining Wipro – attracted RST to take its network through the city.
“But I thought if we can get the schools hooked in – Gardner-Webb, Cleveland Community – it could change their curriculum,” Limerick said. “It will change everything in industry and residential services. The key is what does it take to get people to come to Shelby. You do that by giving them a chance for a good-paying job or a good tech opportunity. We’ve got something that’s not just a good investment for our company, but good for the community.”
RST Global Communications broadband network
What is it: An underground line of 100 percent fiber optic cable that provides broadband services of phone, Internet, TV, safety and security and other services to businesses and residents, with speeds starting at 50 megabyte-per-second minimum and reaching up to 10 gigabytes per second, more than 100 times faster than the average service offered by competing companies.
Who is RST: Cleveland County natives Dan Limerick, Doug Brown and Randy Revels formed the privately funded company in 2009 with a goal of creating infrastructure to connect the county with new technology.
Why fiber optic: “Many networks use fiber, coax and copper. It’s like buying a Ferrari, putting it on the interstate and revving it up and then seeing lights and hitting a two-lane dirt road. That’s what it’s like when fiber and copper meet. The connectivity, the efficiency drops,” said RST CEO Dan Limerick.
Where is the service available: The main transport routes currently run from Shelby along U.S. 74, through Kings Mountain, Gastonia, Lowell, McAdenville, Cramerton, Belmont and ending near Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Another line stretches from Shelby toward Boiling Springs (including Gardner-Webb University).
Where is the fiber optic line: Buried about 10 feet underground through Shelby, near Moss Lake, through Kings Mountain and Gastonia, 10 feet under the South Fork River and 10-12 feet under the Catawba River. RST says having lines completely underground at such depth significantly reduce chance of interrupted services.
How much does it cost for your home?
– High-speed Internet service starts at $59 and increases based on speed.
– TV, phone and Internet bundled together starts at $125.
For details on pricing plans, RST refers customers to rstfiber.com to contact the company directly.
What are they saying?
“Other carriers are multibillion dollar companies. We are a speck of sand on the beach in size. We didn’t build a company to compete with Time Warner, but we want to build it better, faster, and we want to provide an economic advantage.”
— Dan Limerick, RST Global Communications CEO
“This really is a tremendous opportunity for Cleveland County. I personally feel that broadband and economic development are intrinsically linked. In the past, when companies were looking to expand their operations and working through site selection, utility service was the most heavily scrutinized factors in the process. Communities were routinely, and still are, eliminated due to issues pertaining to inadequate, or lack of, gas, water or wastewater. Now, communities are being eliminated if the telecommunications infrastructure is not in place.”
— Kristin Fletcher, executive vice president, Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership
“They have laid the fiber optics out to the data centers. It gives the community the benefit of another option as far as fiber optics. RST has been a significant factor in the county in providing that service. It’s a good economic driver in the county, and we’re glad they’re there.”
— Rick Murphrey, Kings Mountain mayor
“It’s great for a town our size to have this kind of service. (Limerick’s) a very good businessman, he grew up here, and I know they’ve done a lot of research on this technology and hope everybody will take advantage of it. It will be great for businesses and home users. They’ve been installing lines all over town, and it seems extremely exciting.”
— Stan Anthony, Shelby mayor