If you ask 100 tech experts what the world will look like in the next decade, almost all will agree that a tidal wave of new technology is coming that has the potential to transform every aspect of our lives.

Why? Because all around us, the building blocks for innovation – transformative innovation – are apparent.

When we built the first telephone networks, copper wiring was the gold standard. But today, fiber has emerged as the backbone of modern communications: it’s more durable, it can carry more data (that’s what “bandwidth” refers to), it can travel greater distances, it’s more secure and less susceptible to interference, and perhaps most importantly, it’s so much faster.

You might not realize it, but our wireless world runs on wires – and today’s fiber infrastructure will power the next generation of mobile innovation.

Take, for example, 5G – the next generation of mobile technology. 5G will provide more connectivity in more places at faster rates – in homes, workplaces, communities, and cities. 5G will also stimulate economic development across the country, resulting in more jobs for American workers.

But to make all of that happen, we first need to put in place the fiber infrastructure that will take those mobile signals from the ether and across the wired internet. While 5G will use some parts of current networks, it will also need new equipment.

 

Because of this, it’s important that leaders in private industry as well as local, state and federal government agencies work together to create an environment conducive to building the next generation fiber networks that will power 5G. It’s critical that we streamline government approval processes and cut down on red-tape to effectively deploy the equipment and infrastructure we need to move us forward into the digital future.

And as we work to build out and strengthen our innovation economy, we must also make sure that we support American innovators – and their breakthrough ideas. The U.S. patent system was originally developed to incentivize creative thought and ingenuity, but instead some are exploiting the system and shutting down innovation through frivolous lawsuits and intimidation. Congress must ensure that our patent system protects and fosters innovation, rather than silencing it, and enact meaningful patent reform.

There’s never been a more exciting time for innovation. With the right technology – and the right building blocks for that technology – we can create a future in which American innovation and technology continue to improve our lives for generations to come.