New ITU-T SG13 Recommendations related to IMT 2020 and Quantum Key Distribution

by Leo Lehmann,  Chairman of ITU-T SG13 with background information and editing by Alan J Weissberger

Backgrounder:

ITU-T SG13 is the lead ITU-T study group on: future networks such as IMT-2020 networks (non-radio related parts), mobility
management, cloud computing, and trusted network infrastructure.  The work is assigned to questions of which the following are related to the non radio aspects of IMT 2020:

Q.6: Quality of service (QoS) aspects including IMT-2020 networks
Q.20: IMT-2020: Network requirements and functional architecture
Q.21: Network softwarization including softwaredefined networking, network slicing and orchestration
Q.22: Upcoming network technologies for IMT-2020 and future networks
Q.23: Fixed-mobile convergence including IMT-2020

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ITU-T SG13 Chairman’s Summary:

The recent (since October 2019) published IMT 2020 (non radio) related recommendations from ITU SG13 are the following:

  • Y.3154 (Y.NetSoft-SSMO) Resource pooling for scalable network slice service management and orchestration in the IMT-2020 network.  [see below this article for SG13 liaison to GSMA related to Network Slicing]
  • Y.3108 (Y.IMT2020-CEF) Capability exposure function in the IMT-2020 networks
  • Y.3132  (Y.FMC-MM) Mobility management for fixed mobile convergence in IMT-2020 networks
  • Y.3133 (Y.FMC-CE) Capability exposure enhancement for supporting FMC (Fixed Mobile Convergence) in IMT-2020 networks
  • Y.3173 (Y.ML-IMT2020 -Intelligence-level) Framework for evaluating intelligence level of future networks including IMT-2020
  • Y.3174  (Y.ML-IMT2020 -Data-Handling) Framework for data handling to enable machine learning in future networks including IMT-2020
  • Y.3175 (Y.qos-ml-arc) Functional architecture of machine learning based quality of service assurance for the IMT-2020 network
  • Y.3154 (Y.NetSoft-SSMO) Resource pooling for scalable network slice service management and orchestration in the IMT-2020 network

Not directly related to IMT 2020, but generally related to network orchestration and optimization is Y.3652 (Y.bDDN-req) “Requirements of big data driven networking” as an useful new document in the Y.365x series.

In addition, SG13 has published two new recommendations for networks to support quantum key distribution (QKD) [1] :

  • Y.3800 (Y.QKDN_FR) Overview on networks supporting quantum key distribution
  • Y.3801 (Y.QKDN_req) Functional requirements for quantum key distribution networks
  • Y.3800 describes the basic conceptual structures of QKD networks as the first of a series of emerging ITU standards on network and security aspects of quantum information technologies. SG13 standards for QKD networks – networks of QKD devices and an overlay network – will enable the integration of QKD technology into large-scale ICT networks.

Complementing these activities SG17 standards provide recommendations for the security of these QKD networks.

Note 1.    Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a technology using quantum physics to secure the distribution of symmetric encryption keys which solves the problem of key distribution by allowing the exchange of a cryptographic key between two remote parties with information-theoretic security, guaranteed by the fundamental laws of physics. This key can then be used securely with conventional cryptographic algorithms.

The threats posed by quantum computing have a wide range of impacts since public key algorithms such as Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) and elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) are widely used in various security protocols and applications. How to design quantum-safe cryptography that can resist quantum computing attacks is a problem that must be considered for ICT systems to ensure security in the “quantum era”.

In general, there are three possible means to combat quantum computing attacks:

  1. Enhancement of current crypto system: Doubling the current key size can resist Grover’s algorithm which provides a quadratic speed-up for quantum search algorithms in comparison to search algorithms on classical computers. However, this is only suitable for symmetric key systems.

  2. Design of new public key system: Utilizing new mathematical problems which have not been cracked by current quantum algorithms, e.g., lattice-based and code-based cryptography algorithms, which are more often called post-quantum cryptography (PQC). However, even if those new mathematical problems might be proven as robust against known quantum algorithms, they will not be proven secure against quantum algorithms that might be created in the future.

  3. Use of QKD to replace public key based key exchange mechanism: The security of QKD is based on quantum physics principles, which can effectively avoid the threats caused by the increase of computational power or algorithmic “backdoors” faced by traditional public key algorithms. QKD is already proven as robust against quantum algorithms that might be created in the future.

According to Wikipedia, Quantum key distribution is only used to produce and distribute a key, not to transmit any message data. This key can then be used with any chosen encryption algorithm to encrypt (and decrypt) a message, which can then be transmitted over a standard communication channel. The algorithm most commonly associated with QKD is the one-time pad, as it is provably secure when used with a secret, random key. In real-world situations, it is often also used with encryption using symmetric key algorithms like the Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm.

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Liaison Q & A between GSMA and ITU-T SG13 on Network Slicing – Important output liaison from March 2020 SG13 meeting:

Question #1: Network slicing is one of the main features of 5G networks and has been defined by 3GPP. GSMA NEST (NEtwork Slice Type) would like to understand how ServiceProfile from 3GPP TS 28.530 fits into IMT-2020 network slice configuration?

Question #3: What is the relationship between ITU-T NST (Network Slice Template) and GSMA GST (Generic network Slice Template) and 3GPP ServiceProfile?

Answer: ITU-T Q21/13 has recognized the necessity of translation processes from GSMA GST into 3GPP ServiceProfile. Q21/13 is studying the processes with the analysis of IMT-2020 use-cases, and trying to define useful parameters and information for the processes without overlap between SDOs.

Separately Network Slicing will be further defined in 3GPP Release 16.

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About Leo Lehmann:  

Since April 2015, Le​o Lehmann, PhD has been the elected Chairman of ITU-T Study Group 13 (Future networks including cloud computing, mobile and next-generation networks). Prior to his election, Leo was the ITU-T SG13 vice-chairman and working party co-chairman since October 2008.

Leo works full time at OFCOM -Switzerland, taking care of the regulation of mobile and fixed/mobile converged networks.  Prior to joining OFCOM (Switzerland’s regulator) in 2002, Leo held senior management positions in network engineering, system design and services at major telecommunications players on both the vendor and operator side of business.

From 2012 until 2014, Leo also was Vice-chairman of the ITU-T Focus Group on Disaster Relief Systems, Network Resilience and Recovery (FG DR& NRR). Afore he was the Rapporteur on “multimedia service mobility management” in the ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia Services) for many years.

An internationally recognized expert, Leo has worked in telecommunications for 24 years and has experience in private industry as well as the public sector.

As a designated expert on Next Generation Networks and Future Networks including 5G and Multimedia, he has contributed papers and talks at many conferences and workshops.  Dr Lehmann is one of the winners of the best paper award of the ITU-T Kaleidoscope event 2011 “The fully networked human? − Innovations for future networks and services.”

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References:

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2019/03/12/itu-t-sg13-non-radio-hot-topics-and-recommendations-related-to-imt-2020-5g/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2018/05/18/ieee-comsoc-papers-on-network-slicing-and-5g/

https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Regional-Presence/Europe/Documents/Events/2018/5G%20Greece/Session%203%205G%20standards%20ITU%20and%20Italy.pdf

https://www.itu.int/md/T17-SG13-190628-TD-WP1-0384  (Network Slicing Requirements-ITU TIES users only)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_key_distribution

https://www.bakom.admin.ch/bakom/en/homepage.html

2 thoughts on “New ITU-T SG13 Recommendations related to IMT 2020 and Quantum Key Distribution

  1. This well written article has an abundance of technical facts and jargon. While the concise summary was quite informative, the average person -whether a layman or first year engineering grad student – might have difficulty understanding all of the tech laced words and acronyms. Other than that it’s excellent work. The explanation of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) was particularly enlightening considering the movement to quantum computing.

    Commendations to the two authors!

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