ZTE develops OTN-based quantum encryption system

Chinese telecom equipment vendor ZTE has launched what it claims is the industry’s first quantum encryption solution for Optical Transport Network (OTN) transport equipment.

ZTE’s new system exploits the quantum mechanical properties of photons to create an ‘unbreakable’ communications channel. The secure transmission capability and anti-decoding capability are far higher than any traditional information encryption methods. “This will elevate the telecommunication information security sector,” ZTE said in a statement.

The system implements quantum key distribution, which provides an information-theoretically secure method to exchange cryptography keys – meaning it cannot be broken, even with unlimited computing power.

Quantum key distribution relies on the quantum properties of single photons – which are indivisible and unmeasurable. The process of trying to measure the quantum state of the photon in the key disturbs the system, which alerts the user to the fact that a third party is trying to hack into the system.

With the successful launch of China’s Mozi quantum communications satellite this summer, quantum communication technology is attracting wider attention, according to ZTE. The Chinese vendor decided to implement quantum encryption transmission in OTN equipment following an in-depth analysis of network security and encrypted telecommunication requirements.

ZTE’s quantum encryption solution contains a number of innovations, the company says. First, it allows quantum transmission paths to share the same fibre as traditional data traffic on OTN equipment, and provides a quantum encryption functionality without occupying a new fibre resource.

Second, it adopts standard quantum key service interfaces to form an open quantum telecom architecture.

Third, it provides the additional security value delivered by quantum encryption technology without needing to change the current network outside plant, which will facilitate the commercial introduction of the technology.

The company did not say when the products would be generally available.


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