NPR "Xeni Tech" – A Los Angeles 'Hotel' for Internet Carriers

Inside One Wilshire

For the NPR News program "Day to Day," I filed this radio/photo report about One Wilshire in downtown Los Angeles:

Inside One Wilshire

If the Internet is a superhighway, One Wilshire is a really popular roadside hotel. It's a 30-story building, and once exclusively housed law offices. CRG West manages the property, and they're the tech real estate branch of the Carlyle Group. David Dunn of CRG West says 23 of the building's floors are now designed to house not people, but some of the most important communications infrastructure in the country.

The site is what's known as a "carrier hotel." The occupants: connection hardware from nearly 300 Internet and telecommunications giants from around the world. Familiar U.S. companies such as AT&T and Google are here, but so are carriers from Europe, India and Asia.

And like the guests in a regular hotel, these networks can get to know each other. So if one telecom company needed to link up with another, it's much easier when they're under the same roof.

That can be particularly helpful in the event of a disaster like the December 2006 earthquake that struck Taiwan, severing critical undersea fiber optic cables. Most voice and data traffic into and out of Taiwan was slowed or halted, and connectivity to and from other Asian countries was drastically reduced.

Getting to the bottom of the ocean and repairing the cables has taken months. But places such as One Wilshire were able to re-route some of that Internet and voice traffic through their facility within days.

Link to archived audio (Real/Win) and transcript, and here's a Flickr set: Link.

Or, listen to this report in the "Xeni Tech" podcast: Link to subscribe, and here's a direct link to this episode (MP3). Images above: Xeni Jardin, under this Creative Commons license.

Among the voices in this piece: Bruce Schneier, author of "Beyond Fear," who addresses growing concerns that One Wilshire may be a "cyberterror target" because of its unique role as a crossover point for internet and telecom networks.

(Special thanks to NPR News producer Nihar Patel!)