Thank subsidies and our pandemic-era data appetite. No wonder Google Fiber has restarted its expansion plans.

Government subsidies and pandemic-era telecommuting have quietly fueled the growth of broadband fiber networks, propelling the fast connection technology from an exotic, expensive technology niche to the mainstream.

In the US, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment programs encouraged internet service providers to bring higher-speed access to places that previously wouldn’t have been profitable to serve. Government support also has helped improve broadband in Sweden, LithuaniaItaly and other European nations.

A global pandemic, which turned our homes into offices and schoolrooms, also encouraged the upgrade to faster broadband. Work video conferences and Zoom school lessons demanded more data — often at the same time — than we had previously needed. An explosion in the use of  streaming video services like Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus added to the demand for fiber at home.

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