Much of the world has gone wireless. Landlines have been traded in for smartphones, while personal desktop computers are less enticing than laptops. And, of course, many people would rather not have to connect to the internet by plugging in a cable. As a society, we like having 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 isn’t always the most accessible in terms of data connectivity and capacity. The USDA invested $85 million in improving internet access throughout rural areas of the nation during 2015, but those living and working in these communities often still have trouble getting and staying online. And even in more urban areas, the need for high-speed, reliable connectivity is a must.

So, what’s the solution? 5G is one of the top emerging options for secure capacity connectivity throughout the United States, as well as Latin America. Slated to continue rolling out this year, 5G wireless can better support both IoT and broadband internet on mobile devices. There are even possibilities that 5G can be used for fixed broadband in large cities; it’s already being used in a limited capacity, in the form of hot spots, to improve rural internet access.

But what many people fail to realize is that high-capacity fiber networks are actually necessary for the success of 5G wireless options. In order to facilitate fast and reliable 5G connections worldwide, fiber optic cable has to be utilized. Fiber optic networks that already exist (either underground or in the air) but that have, until now, remained “dark” are the ideal option for bolstering the growth of 5G. These lines have already been installed but have yet to be activated, which means the capacity for improved data capacity is already there — it essentially just needs to be switched on. If utilized properly, mobile providers can improve their networks’ bandwidth and speed with help from fiber optics.

It might sound strange to think about, but at the center of any mobile network lies some kind of wired connection. In order to meet the growing demand for 5G, a given mobile provider will have to rely on the wired resources that a telecommunications company can provide. If the goal is to move forward with 5G connections, it’s essential to have the fiber optic networks in place first.

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