BT, Toshiba launch commercial trial of quantum secured metro network

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Image credit: BT

U.K. incumbent, BT, alongside Toshiba has launched the trial of a commercial quantum secured metro network. 

The infrastructure will be able to connect numerous customers across London, helping them to secure the transmission of valuable data and information between multiple physical locations over standard fibre optic links using quantum key distribution (QKD). This can play a fundamental role in protecting networks and data against the emerging threat of cyber-attack using quantum computing. The London network represents a critical step towards reaching the UK government’s strategy to become a quantum-enabled economy.

The network’s first commercial customer, Ernst & Young Global (EY), will use the network to connect two of its sites in London, one in Canary Wharf, and one near London Bridge. It will demonstrate how data secured using QKD can move between sites and will showcase the benefits this network brings to its own customers.

BT will operate the network, providing a range of quantum-secured services including dedicated high bandwidth end-to-end encrypted links, delivered over Openreach’s private fibre networks. Toshiba will provide quantum key distribution hardware and key management software. In the network, QKD keys will be combined with the in-built ethernet security, based on public-key based encryption, which will enable the resultant keys to be used to encrypt the data.

Howard Watson, chief technology officer at BT, commented: ‘Quantum-enabled technologies are expected to have a profound impact on how society and business operates in the future, but they are remarkably complex to understand, develop and build: in particular, ensuring that the end-to-end service designs meet the stringent security requirements of the market. I’m incredibly proud that BT and Toshiba have successfully united to deliver this unique network, and with EY as our first trial customer, we are paving the way for further commercial explorations for quantum technologies and their use in commercial, and societal applications in the future.’

Shunsuke Okada, corporate senior vice president and chief digital officer at Toshiba said: ‘Both Toshiba and BT have demonstrated world-class technology development and leadership through decades of innovation and operation. Combining BT’s leadership in networks technologies and Toshiba’s leadership in quantum technologies has brought this network to life, allowing businesses across London to benefit from quantum secured communications for the first time.’

Praveen Shankar, EY UK & Ireland managing partner for technology, media and telecoms (TMT), added: ‘Quantum technology creates new and significant opportunities for business, but presents potential risks. Quantum secure data transmission represents the next major leap forward in protecting data, an essential component of doing business in a digital economy.’

The network has been running since early April, and will operate for an initial period of up to three years.

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