San Luis Obispo County, Calif. becomes global fiber-optic crossroad

Feb. 15, 2001
Long known as an international tourist stopover on the coast-hugging highways of Central California, San Luis Obispo (SLO) County has become a major crossroad for the fiber-optic links that tie communications around the globe.

Long known as an international tourist stopover on the coast-hugging highways of Central California, San Luis Obispo (SLO) County has become a major crossroad for the fiber-optic links that tie communications around the globe.

Four trans-pacific fiber-optic cables have landings in SLO County, situated just about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, making it a key gateway to the Pacific Rim. Additional fiber-optic cables carry data and voice signals north, south and inland from the county. This strategic convergence has led several top-level Internet infrastructure companies to locate on the Central Coast, and is also spurring a boom in office building in the community.

One planned 140,000-square-foot telecom/data center facility sits directly over the strategic fiber-optic cables. The building, Gateway Comm Center, is slated to break ground in late Spring. In addition to its critical location, the building is located in an area exempt from the recent rolling blackouts that have plagued many other areas of California.

Gateway Comm Center was designed to meet the needs of telecommunications and Internet-based companies wishing to house fiber-optic gateways, terminals, collocation facilities and data centers. The concrete-based building features 17-foot clear ceiling heights, 250 psi floor loading and space for generators and other mechanical equipment. Climate control, redundant power supply and high security also serve as important parts of the center's design.

Businesses have long been attracted to San Luis Obispo County for its highly educated workforce from the Cal Poly SLO and Cuesta College labor pools-and its reasonable housing and living costs, plus a friendly, desirable environment and mild coastal climate. In addition to the fiber-optic cables traversing it, SLO County also boasts a stable power supply thanks to two power plants in the area. An "early warning" system of 131 sirens that ring the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant has created critical "exempt" service areas. Gateway Comm Center is in one of those exempt areas.

While the entire county is not exempt from the rolling blackouts in California's power-plagued days, a larger, more highly concentrated business area protected from them creates a more attractive economic climate. Local businesses see the promise of a more stable power supply adding to their decision to locate in the county, and expect to see more businesses joining them as a result.

Among the companies already doing business in SLO County are Level 3 and Qwest-both adjacent to the Gateway Comm Center-as well as Sprint, MCI WorldCom, Williams Communications, Global Crossing, and ISP International.

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