'Silicon Beach' Sets Standard for California's High-Tech Future

So-called Silicon Beach, a region on the Westside of Los Angeles known for its high density of tech startups, currently holds a monopoly on infrastructure supported by fiber optic cables. This high-capacity hardware is the industry standard for high-speed internet, a utility so intimately tied to how business is done in the modern world that it's practically a necessity. This was clearly demonstrated in 2016, when the United Nations went so far as to issue a non-binding resolution declaring Internet access a human right.

With Silicon Beach thriving thanks to its cutting edge infrastructure, its periphery communities throughout Southern California are looking to the future of the states technological and economic development. Several public organizations dedicated to business development throughout southern California have begun tackling the question of how to expand Silicon Beach's infrastructural model.

Two non-profit organizations from the South Bay area, the Council of Governments and the Workforce Investment Board, are looking to expanding access to high-speed fiber optics in order to support their mission of growing regional economics and modernizing government services and operations. The two groups came together and published the South Bay Fiber-Optic Master Plan, an exploratory study that examined the issue. The crux of the plan expand the fiber optic networks of Silicon Beach into surrounding, lower income areas and offer the service at a more affordable rate. This, the two groups propose will inspire more tech startups to either begin or relocate to the area, thereby uplifting the region economically as a whole.

The plan, however, isn't merely concerned with the future, but is also a response to present difficulties in the area. Local government officials were alarmed when defense and aerospace firm Chemring Energetic Devices packed up shop because the currently limited infrastructure prevented them from hooking up to the high speed fiber optic data network. Chemring's abandonment of the area meant the many lucrative tech industry positions they offered disappeared as well. Therefore, both Council of Governments and Workforce Investment Board are pitching their South Bay Fiber-Optic Master Plan as not just a future project, but a necessary stopgap to prevent other companies from abandoning the region.

Their project aside, public sector companies are also competing for the lucrative opportunity to modernize Southern California's infrastructure. Google Fiber, Verizon, AT&T, and other communication and data tech giants have already made inroads to the region, with AT&T recently making its fastest service available to nearly 150,000 Los Angeles homes. Regardless of how the infrastructural demand is met, the study laid out in no uncertain terms the importance of modernizing Southern California, so that other regions may benefit from the same economic vigor found in Silicon Beach.


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