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The COVID-19 pandemic caused businesses to shake up the way they operate in just a matter of days. Many had to shift employees to working remotely …

The COVID-19 pandemic caused businesses to shake up the way they operate in just a matter of days. Many had to shift employees to working remotely with practically no prep time. Reliable, high-speed internet became more of a necessity than a luxury to people across the U.S. One of the nation’s leading internet providers, AT&T, swiftly kicked into action to help businesses make the switch.

“You don’t design a network for a pandemic. But it turns out that building your network on software and open hardware specifications can help make it ready for just about anything,” AT&T Chief Technology Officer Andre Fuetsch said in a recent blog.

AT&T offers a cloud-based virtual private network, or VPN, known as ANIRA that uses a simple plug-and-play white box that doesn’t require a professional installer.

Fuetsch called the VPN simple, flexible and efficient.

This software helped businesses in health care, financial services and other essential fields around the world switch to virtual operations quickly and with ease. The number of ANIRA customer connections increased nearly 700% from the start of COVID-19 to April, Fuetsch said.

“AT&T was able to accommodate that demand surge without missing a beat. Just a few years ago, that would have been impossible,” Fuetsch said.

“There were a couple long, hectic days, but we feel really good that our investments in building a software-defined network paid off,” said Mike Beltzer, assistant vice president of network infrastructure operations.

Fuetsch said they are adding more capacity to be ready for future needs.

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