U.S. networks have shown remarkable resilience during the coronavirus pandemic. Service providers have been under pressure to deliver seamless connectivity to millions of people working at home, going to school and seeking entertainment online. The networks have seen unprecedented stress: total traffic on AT&T’s core network has jumped by 25% since the COVID-19 outbreak. While there have not been any large-scale outages to date, operators must quickly adapt to new patterns of digital usage as well as new cybersecurity threats.
- As the vast majority of the workforce operates remotely on unsecured home networks, the attack surface has expanded overnight and created significant opportunities for hackers, including state-sponsored organizations. Cybersecurity threats will have to be reevaluated
- Due to remote work, we are seeing massive strains on VPNs and network security appliances that are still housed on premise. We expect this new demand to lead to re-engineering of architectures to handle the increased capacity. Privacy concerns for videoconferencing will most likely lead to better privacy enforcement (e.g., CCPA, GDPR and more)
- The move toward software-controlled network function virtualization will enable operators to implement necessary changes to deal with the changing dynamics of the crisis. The pandemic will accelerate this transition, which will be boosted by edge computing and the broader deployment of 5G
- Telcos must continue to increase capacity. One way operators have achieved this is by borrowing spectrum to handle traffic spikes. Additional network investment is likely to be required: Verizon already said it will increase spending on its network by $500 million to support its network and 5G expansion
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