Coronavirus challenges remote networking | ITworld

As the coronavirus spreads, many companies are requiring employees to work from home, putting unanticipated stress on remote networking technologies and causing bandwidth and security concerns.

Businesses have facilitated brisk growth of teleworkers over the past decades to an estimated 4 million-plus. The meteoric rise in new remote users expected to come online as a result of the novel coronavirus calls for stepped-up capacity.

Research by VPN vendor Atlas shows that VPN usage in the U.S. grew by 53% between March 9 and 15, and it could grow faster. VPN usage in Italy, where the virus outbreak is about two weeks ahead of the U.S., increased by 112% during the last week. “We estimate that VPN usage in the U.S. could increase over 150% by the end of the month,” said Rachel Welch, chief operating officer of Atlas VPN, in a statement.

Businesses are trying to get a handle on how much capacity they’ll need by running one-day tests. For example, JPMorgan Chase, Morningstar and analytics startup Arity have tested or plan to test their systems by having employees work from home for a day, according to the Chicago Tribune.

On the government side, agencies such as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA have or will run remote networking stress tests to understand their remote networking capacity and what the impact will be if they add thousands of new teleworkers. About 2 million people work for the government in the U.S.

To help stave off congestion in cellular data networks, the Federal Communications Commission has granted T-Mobile temporary access to spectrum in the 600MHz band that’s owned by other licensees. T-Mobile said it requested the spectrum “to make it easier for Americans to participate in telehealth, distance learning, and telework, and simply remain connected while practicing recommended ‘social distancing’.”

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