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Shelby-based tech firm launching Google Fiber-style service across NC

Google made news in Charlotte and nationally last month when it included the Queen City and Raleigh among nine metropolitan areas where it would like to expand its high-speed Google Fiber broadband service in coming years.

But a startup firm from Shelby says it is rolling out a new network that can offer that level of service now – and not just in Charlotte and Raleigh, but across North Carolina.

RST Global, a firm launched in 2009, announced Tuesday that its new network can connect to the Internet at speeds up to 100 gigabits per second, 1,000 times faster than the service typically offered by today’s providers.

The service relies on 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cables buried across the state. During the four-year build-out, the firm dug about 1,100 miles worth of cable, and bought access to existing lines to complete the rest of the network.

RST’s network differs from Google Fiber and the networks of providers such as Time Warner Cable in that it doesn’t require running cables directly to homes.

The signal arrives instead via Wi-Fi to standard-issue routers, eliminating a major startup expense for the company, said Dan Limerick, a Shelby native and a founder of RST Global.

“We’ll be able to supply North Carolina with unprecedented broadband connectivity,” Limerick said. “It’s the next generation technology that the telecoms, even as large and as prosperous as they are, are going to have to build exactly as we have, which is from scratch.”

The service, which he said runs $99 per month for Internet access, will also accommodate video services, but those prices haven’t been set yet.

Limerick said RST will be able to serve both rural and metropolitan areas. It has lines running through Ballantyne, for instance, that are already activated, he said.

Service is available now anywhere close to the “backbone” of the fiber-optic line, he added. If a Ballantyne building near the line signed up Tuesday, “we could have them hooked up by Friday.”

The service relies on powerful “carrier class” Wi-Fi service, as well as Cisco network and data center technologies. The giant telecommunications firm is so enthused about RST’s work that it joined the Shelby firm in putting out a news release Tuesday touting the collaboration.

Greg Smith, a Cisco marketing manager, said RST’s network is positioned on the leading edge of a growing movement away from the Internet, cable and phone services bundles that the big telecom firms rely on.

He said people increasingly want access to services such as Hulu or Netflix or Salesforce.com rather than to broadband in general.

“RST has the network to be able to deliver that,” he said.

Frazier: 704-358-5145; @Ericfraz on Twitter
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