An initiative that was expected to earn Wake Forest the distinction as one of the Triangle’s first gigabit communities has been put on hold.
Following a frustrating series of starts and stops, town officials say RST Fiber, the Shelby-based company that promised to deliver gigabit-speed Internet service to Wake Forest, is no longer an option.
In April 2014, RST began installing a high-speed fiber network in strategic areas around town. The company also announced a pricing structure and pre-signed over 2,500 Wake Forest residents for the service. At the time, RST officials said they planned to provide gigabit Internet service (1,000 MB per second) to Wake Forest homes and businesses, possibly as early as August or September 2014.
Instead, the date kept getting pushed back and the initiative that started with so much promise began to appear in jeopardy.
In early fall, RST successfully installed conduit from downtown Wake Forest to Raleigh. Considered the backbone of the fiber installation, the installment of the underground lines was interpreted as a good sign the initiative was back on track.
However, a four-month delay in receiving permission from the Corps of Engineers to cross the Neuse River on Old Falls of Neuse Road prompted RST to pull its crews out of Wake Forest and send them to work in Charlotte.
At the time, RST’s CEO said he expected the company to complete its work in Charlotte by early December and then return to Wake Forest. But they never did.
In late 2014, RST announced it was postponing work in Wake Forest in hopes of securing new financial investments.
Following several futile attempts to obtain answers from RST officials this year, town officials began preparing for the worst by once again reaching out to other service providers.
Then, in June, the Shelby Star newspaper reported that RST has experienced outages in Shelby lasting up to four days. Service has since been restored, but the newspaper also revealed no one was answering phone calls at RST headquarters, the office staff has been fired and the company is involved in a lawsuit with one of its founders.
Following these latest revelations, Wake Forest officials say they have officially closed the door on the town’s relationship with RST.
“We are extremely disappointed that RST will be unable to fulfill its promise of delivering gigabit-speed Internet service to our residents,” said Deputy Town Manager Roe O’Donnell. “Still, we are keeping our options open and are continuing to work with other potential service providers.”
O’Donnell added that the fiber network already laid by RST is extremely valuable and will likely be an attractive incentive to other high-speed Internet service providers considering Wake Forest.