Asheville Gets Faster Broadband Service


After four years of laying fiber-optic lines underground, RST Fiber switched on its broadband pipeline from Murphy to Manteo on Tuesday, making North Carolina the first “gigabit” state.

With the 3,100-mile 100-gigabit pipeline looping beneath downtown Asheville, area residents and businesses could be among the first in the state to upload and download video, files and data hundreds of times faster than broadband speeds now offered by telecom and cable companies.

“What we’ve launched today is in effect a 5G network,” said Dan Limerick, a co-founder of RST Fiber, a private company based in Shelby, that has partnered with high-tech giant Cisco to build a brand new network. “It’s what Cisco CEO John Chambers calls the ‘Internet of Everything.’ Everything in the house, all of our devices are going to be smart, from door locks to security systems to refrigerators and TVs. They’ll need that kind of connectivity.”

Older networks rely on copper lines that can be 50 years old or older and are unable to adequately handle the higher broadband speeds of fiber optics

Limerick said

Google has announced plans to potentially offer fiber-optic broadband service of 1- to 10-gigabit service in 36 cities, including Charlotte and Raleigh.

In coming months, RST Fiber could offer up to 100-gigabit service reaching into rural areas around the state.

Limerick, along with his partners, Randy Revels and Doug Brown, wanted to bring better broadband access to Cleveland County and other rural counties that have seen good-paying textile and manufacturing jobs leaving for overseas. “I felt we could generate more economic opportunity if we could create better broadband,” Limerick said.

The company has invested “tens of millions of dollars,” Limerick said, laying new fiber-optic lines more than 10 feet underground.

RST Fiber’s clients include about 250 data centers, municipalities, health care organizations, schools and universities, businesses and homes. Limerick expects more customers to quickly come on board.

Services will be priced competitively with residents paying about $99 a month for 1-gigabit service with no contracts. RST will build out fiber loops into neighborhoods and rural areas, delivering broadband into the home with a new wireless technology, Limerick said.

Uncompressed television and video services are expected to be launched by the summer.

Businesses can contract for up to 100-gigabits speeds.

“Ensuring that North Carolina has the next-generation infrastructure and fiber networks needed to carry our data traffic and provide broadband services to our businesses, community institutions, and citizens is critical,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker. “We appreciate RST Fiber’s investment in North Carolina and look forward to working with them to continue to push broadband deployment and growth, allowing for increased opportunities in economic development, education and efficiency for our state.”

Written by Dale Neal