Over the past two decades, the Internet has not only transformed commerce, government and education, but has made untold volumes of information accessible to citizens from the comfort of home. But access to high-speed network technology remains limited in many areas, and communities that lack such access risk falling behind.

The consequences of outdated network infrastructure are serious. Students suffer when they are unable to access online educational materials – increasingly in the form of video – due to slow network connections. Rural healthcare providers are limited in their ability to provide quality patient care and services that require online consultation or access an insurer’s online database. Businesses – which now consider Internet access to be as basic as electricity and water service – are hesitant to locate anywhere that can’t provide reliable high-speed connectivity. And these are only a few examples.

That’s why leveraging Internet technology continues to be a priority for RST. Our fiber-optic network is 100 percent underground including backbone, middle and ‘last mile’ installation and moves data at a rate of 10-gigabits per second, more than 100 times faster than current network speeds. Because our fiber is installed completely underground, maintenance requirements and outages are significantly reduced, enabling us to deliver a truly end-to-end fiber network at a much lower cost.

In addition to increased network speeds at reduced rates, installing all-fiber and other high-speed network infrastructure has other benefits. High-speed networks represent the perfect platform for content and digital transmission going forward; the growth of cloud computing requires “superhighway” transport pathways from the source to the consumer, which is only possible on this type of network.

If the current limited capacity and slow speeds threaten our economic future, world-class networks can help position a region as a prime destination for economic development, education and ongoing technology opportunities.