Why fiber optics will play a key role in meeting wireless demands

Much of the world has gone wireless. Landline phones have been replaced by smartphones, while personal desktop computers are becoming less attractive than laptops. And, of course, many people prefer not to have to connect to the Internet by plugging a cable into a network. As a society, we like to have the option to go anywhere at any time, and that means we need options for constant connections to the online world.

That said, wireless Internet is not always the most accessible in terms of capacity and data connectivity. USDA invested $85 million in improving Internet access in the nation’s rural areas during 2015, but those who live and work in these communities often still struggle to get and stay online. And even in more urban areas, the need for reliable, high-speed connectivity is a must.

So what is the solution? 5G is one of the leading emerging options for secure capacity connectivity throughout the United States, as well as in Latin America. Scheduled for continued deployment this year, 5G wireless technology can better support both broadband Internet and IoT on mobile devices. There is even potential for 5G to be used for fixed broadband in large cities; it is already being used in a limited capacity, in the form of hot spots, to improve Internet access in rural areas.

But many people don’t realize that high-capacity fiber networks are actually necessary for the success of 5G wireless options. To facilitate fast and reliable 5G connections worldwide, fiber optic cable must be used. Fiber optic networks that already exist (either subway or overhead) but have so far remained “dark” are the ideal option to drive 5G growth. These lines have already been installed, but have not yet been activated, which means that the capability to improve data capacity already exists; basically, it just needs to be activated. If used correctly, mobile service providers can improve the bandwidth and speed of their networks with the help of fiber optics.

It may seem strange to think about, but at the heart of any mobile network is some sort of wired connection. To meet the growing demand for 5G, a given mobile provider will have to rely on the wired resources that a telco can provide. If the goal is to move forward with 5G connections, it is essential to have fiber optic networks in place first.

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