The U.S. Air Force’s AFNet Sustainment and Operations branch (HNIB) has expanded the service branch’s network capacity to 200,000 teleworkers, an Air Force official said.

“Our team operates a lot like your home internet service provider but with a much higher level of security,” material leader and branch chief Lt. Col. Charles O’Connor said in a news release. “Almost overnight we went from 10,000 users to just under 200,000.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding network capacity to advance social distancing guidelines has been key to keeping Air Force personnel online. The service branch used the Enterprise User Remote Access Management (EURAM) program to add virtual private network capacity to the existing USAF infrastructure.

“With the legacy network, our capacity was maximum 10,000 users for all of the Air Force,” Lt. Col. O’Connor said. “The EURAM program was going to come in and bump that requirement to 62,000, and at the same time, upgrade the infrastructure to new devices with better security, but just as we were finalizing this initial deployment, COVID kicked off as did an increased demand for telework.”

As part of this process, HNIB had to ship equipment from Hanscom Air Force Base (AFB) in Massachusetts to Vandenburg AFB and Beale AFB in California, and Peterson AFB in Colorado.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has reported big overall strides to bolster network capacity to accommodate the large shift to telework amid the pandemic. In mid-April, DoD saw rapid user ramp-up with its Commercial Virtual Remote Environment that was launched in late March. At that time, upgrades for the Air Force led to a 130 percent spikes in bandwidth.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.