Wake Forest has parted ways with RST Fiber Optic Networks, a technology company in Cleveland County that had planned to offer gigabit-speed Internet service to residents.
Town leaders made the decision to abandon the project with North Carolina-based RST after a series of delays, lack of communication, reported service outages in Cleveland County and a dispute between the company’s partners, said Assistant Town Manger Roe O’Donnell.
The town never entered into a formal agreement with RST, O’Donnell said. But the company was using the town’s right-of-way to install fiber optic service.
RST installed an estimated $4 million to $5 million worth of infrastructure, O’Donnell said, including a 14-mile conduit from Raleigh to Wake Forest.
The company also began to install a fiber optic line toward Henderson to ensure a backup system would be in place.
“They got about six miles north of Wake Forest, and they just disappeared,” O’Donnell said. “So we wonder what’s up.”
He said town leaders haven’t been able to reach RST officials in months.
The company ran into a four-month delay to get permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cross the Neuse River on Old Falls of Neuse Road, town spokesman Bill Crabtree said in a news release.
Last fall, RST officials said the company halted work in the town while it secured private financial investments.
O’Donnell said some of the company’s top officials are now in a legal dispute.
In June, the Shelby Star in Cleveland County, located in western North Carolina, reported that RST service had been down for up to four days. The company experienced a “major outage” in January that left many customers without service for more than 24 hours.
Doug Brown, an official with RST, did not return a phone call Tuesday afternoon.
More than 2,500 Wake Forest residents had pre-signed for RST service, according to the town.
Without RST, Wake Forest will be left without high-speed Internet service, at least for now, while some other Triangle towns prepare for faster service.
Google Fiber is set to begin construction in the Triangle on its high-speed fiber optic network, but those plans don’t include Wake Forest. The town also isn’t included in AT&T’s local plans.
O’Donnell said Wake Forest leaders hope a private company will buy RST’s infrastructure and bring high-speed service to town.
He said he was “deeply disappointed” that things didn’t work out with RST.
“But we’re still looking for other avenues,” O’Donnell said.