BT and Toshiba commercial trial of a ‘quantum-secured’ metro network

BT and Toshiba have launched what they say is the world’s first “commercial trial” of a quantum-secured metro network (QSMN).

The QSMN 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 fiber optic links using quantum key distribution (QKD).

QKD is an important technology, playing 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 QSMN is a three-node London exchange fiber optic ring using commercially available QKD hardware from Toshiba. BT provided fiber connectivity and “quantum-enabled” local exchanges.

Source: BT

German based optical network vendor ADVA is also involved in the QSMN. For the dedicated QKD “access tails,” BT used a commercially available Optical Spectrum Access Filter Connect (OSA FC) solution from Openreach, the UK incumbent’s infrastructure arm. OSA FC was developed by ADVA.

Financial services firm EY, the network’s first commercial customer,  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 is working with EY (a non paying customer) and others that want to try QSMN to work out which types of QKD services will be in demand and how the business case might pan out.  That initiative will likely be done over a three-year period,

“It’s a commercial trial in the sense that it’s built on commercial kit,” Professor Tim Whitley, managing director at BT’s applied research division, told Light Reading.

“It’s also a commercial trial in the sense that, unlike many trials around, it is effectively integrated in and part of a national operator’s communications infrastructure. It is managed out of our national operations center at Adastral Park.”

BT and Toshiba announced their commitment to creating a trial network in October 2021. 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, while 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.

Some recent QKD history:

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Howard Watson, CTO, BT stated: “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 of Toshiba commented: “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.”

Preparation, technical deployment and testing for the network commenced in late 2021. This included equipment deployment in racks, adding security systems and resilience testing, and finally running and optimising the network. While Tuesday 26th April marked the official launch of the network, it has been running since early April, and will operate for an initial period of up to three years.

Praveen Shankar, EY UK & Ireland Managing Partner for Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT), commented: “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. Our work with two of the world’s leading technology innovators will allow us to demonstrate the power of quantum to both EY and our clients.”

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The UK Government’s “strategic intent” to develop a quantum-enabled economy was first published in 2020. It sets out a vision for the next 10 years in which quantum technologies will become an integral part of the UK’s digital backbone, unlock innovation to drive growth and help build a thriving and resilient economy, and contribute significant value to the UK’s prosperity and security.

The London network represents an important step to building a national network for quantum secured communications, which will stimulate the growth of a quantum ready economy in the UK.

Howard Watson continued: “This is a significant moment in the UK’s journey towards a quantum-enabled economy, but we’re not there yet. Further investment commitments will be required to broaden the study of quantum technologies that will contribute to this new economy, including quantum computing, quantum cryptography and quantum communications. We look forward to working with our government and industry partners to continue the momentum BT has started and shaping the UK’s quantum strategy.”

The technical collaboration for this network was conducted in BT’s Adastral Park labs in Suffolk, UK, and the Quantum technology Business Division of Toshiba, based in Tokyo, Japan and Cambridge, UK, where the quantum key distribution technology has been developed and is manufactured.

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References:

https://www.global.toshiba/ww/news/corporate/2022/04/news-20220427-01.html

https://www.lightreading.com/opticalip-networks/bt-toshiba-unveil-quantum-secured-metro-network/d/d-id/777084?

https://newsroom.bt.com/bt-and-toshiba-to-build-worlds-first-commercial-quantum-secured-metro-network-across-london/

Verizon Trials Quantum Key Distribution for Encryption over Fiber Optic Links

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

 

Deutsche Telekom’s T-Labs enters research partnership to progress quantum technologies

Deutsche Telekom said it is taking part in the Platform and Ecosystem for Quantum-Assisted Artificial Intelligence project to conduct research into quantum technologies, under the leadership of research and development unit T-Labs. Deutsche Telekom will carry out research activities and tests for potential use cases of quantum technologies, particularly for network operators. A consortium of 15 partners and 33 associated partners are taking part the research projects, funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Economy.

T-Labs will provide specific use cases from the field of telecommunications, including the optimization of communication networks, Industry 4.0 applications or AI-clustering problems for customer segments. Quantum algorithms can provides solutions to the complexity and size of applications. Quantum computers could be used for Deutsche Telekom’s operational business.

A robot looks at a wall on which numerous formulas are written and the Bloch spehre is depicted.

Quantum algorithms for telecommunication providers

Quantum computers promise an exponential increase in processing speed for selected problem classes. For example, in combinatorial optimization problems or the training of AI models (AI: artificial intelligence). In communication science, Shor’s algorithm is usually considered the “killer application” of quantum computing. This is because quantum computers can use it to attack today’s security infrastructures.

In the PlanQK project, T-Labs provides some specific use cases from the field of telecommunications. These include the optimization of communication networks, Industry 4.0 applications or AI-clustering problems for customer segments. These applications have a high level of complexity and, if the problem exceeds a critical size, can only be calculated classically with great difficulty. Here, quantum algorithms promise the solution. With growing size, quality and processing speed, quantum computers could find their way into Telekom’s operational business.

The path to a standardized quantum app store

However, the goal is not only to evaluate and demonstrate the applicability of current quantum technology for use at Telekom. The PlanQK project also seeks to prevent the risk of any one company achieving a dominant market position and setting de facto industry standards. This project is targeted at ensuring the development and establishment of a vendor-independent platform and associated ecosystem for quantum-assisted artificial intelligence. Users could then, for example, compile solutions for their company or commission them via the cloud or a quantum app store.

About Deutsche Telekom: Deutsche Telekom at a glance
About T-Systems: T-Systems company profile

References:

https://www.telekom.com/en/media/media-information/archive/telekom-focuses-on-research-into-quantum-technologies-616020

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/01/12/quantum-telephony-network-deployed-at-moscow-state-university-using-vipnet-qss/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/11/27/kpn-collaborating-on-quantum-network-for-nederlands-metro-areas/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/09/04/verizon-trials-quantum-key-distribution-for-encryption-over-fiber-optic-links/

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

Quantum Telephony Network deployed at Moscow State University using Vipnet QSS

The Centre for Quantum Technologies at Moscow State University has deployed a secure quantum telephony network, reports Cnews.ru. The network will interconnect 20 quantum telephony users. The maximum distance between users is 50 km.  The network will be based on the Vipnet Quantum Security System (Vipnet QSS) quantum encrypting system.  The project was started in December 2020 and should be completed by the end of 2021.

During the implementation of the program, a secure segment of the quantum network will be created between several subscribers located on the territory of the Moscow State University campus on Lenin Hills.   The network points of presence will be installed at the Department of Physics, in the Main Building and in the Center for Quantum Technologies (about 20 subscriber points in total).  In 2021, the network will be integrated with the network of Infotecs and by the end of this year the quantum protected network will be fully put into trial operation.

“Before quantum encryption becomes a familiar part of secure business communications, it is necessary to thoroughly test all possible options for the operation of such systems. The project that we started complements and develops the experiments and developments in the field of quantum communications over fiber-optic networks that we and other companies working in this field previously carried out, “said Professor Sergei Kulik, scientific director of the Center for Quantum Technologies at Moscow State University.

The quantum network will be built on the ViPNet Quantum Security SystemViPNet QSS ), a quantum cryptographic system for generating and distributing keys (KKS VRK ), developed by InfoTeKS in collaboration with the Center for Quantum Technologies of Lomonosov Moscow State University. The system operates in a star topology and is designed to distribute encryption keys between trusted zones. In the course of the project, several tasks will be solved simultaneously: this quantum network will be multi-node, it will work in urban conditions, a secure channel will connect the networks of different organizations.

To ensure the safe transfer of information between protected zones, ViPNet QSS Point clients are installed in each zone, which are connected via a quantum channel through a hierarchical system of ViPNet QSS Switch optical switches to the ViPNet QSS Server. Thus, the trusted zones are combined for secure communication. The ViPNet QSS system delivers encryption keys to all devices that encrypt user information.

The confidentiality of negotiations through this system is based on strong symmetric encryption of network traffic between subscribers using the quantum key distribution protocol. In turn, the robustness of this protocol is based on the fundamental principle of quantum physics – the impossibility of measuring a photon without changing its state. This means that if an attacker tries to intercept photons, from which a quantum key should subsequently be formed, their initially prepared states will change. The protocol will detect these changes and will not use such photons to generate a secret quantum key.

One of the advantages of a “quantum” phone is the ability to encrypt voice traffic and text messages of users on keys unknown even to the network administrator.

“Our cooperation with colleagues from Moscow State University began 4 years ago. During this time, we have created several cryptographic systems operating in different topologies. It is pleasant to note that our joint developments also find practical application, – commented Dmitry Gusev, Deputy General Director of InfoTeKS. “I think that the trial operation of ViPNet QSS will allow us and colleagues from the Center for Quantum Technologies to better understand the real needs of customers interested in quantum technologies.”

One of advantages of “quantum” phone is an opportunity to cipher voice traffic and text messages of users on the keys unknown even to the network administrator.

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On May 28, 2019, InfoTeKS and the NTI Competence Center – Center for Quantum Technologies of the Physics Department, Moscow State University demonstrated the work of a pre-production sample of the first “quantum” phone in Russia, ViPNet QSS Phone, which is part of the ViPNet Quantum Security System (ViPNet QSS).

A session of voice communication was carried out between the Center of Quat Technologies and the Infotecs office, protected on quantum keys and using an optical line provided by YL-com.

Quantum telephone is a joint development of the NTI Competence Center, created on the basis of the M.V. Lomonosov and Infotecs, a partner of the university in the quantum Consortium. Work on the product began in 2016 with a decision to support a local project within the MSU Development Program.

The confidentiality of negotiations on a “quantum” phone is based on strong symmetric encryption of network traffic between subscribers using the quantum key distribution protocol for the distribution of keys. In turn, the stability of this protocol is based on the fundamental principle of quantum physics that it is impossible to measure a photon without changing its state. This means that if an attacker tries to intercept photons, from which a quantum key should subsequently be formed, their initially prepared states will change. The protocol will detect these changes and will not use such photons to generate a secret quantum key.

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References:
https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/04/26/new-itu-t-sg13-recommendations-related-to-imt-2020-and-quantum-key-distribution/

KPN collaborating on quantum network for Nederlands metro areas

Netherlands telco KPN is partnering QuTech, SURF and OPNT on a project to develop a first-of-its-kind quantum network in the Randstad metropolitan area (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht). The Fast Mode reports that the project will focus on connecting different quantum processors, a significant distance apart, to create ‘the first fully functional quantum network using high speed fibre connections’. A quantum network is a radically new internet technology, with the potential for creating pioneering applications. Such a network connects quantum processors to each other via optical channels, enabling the exchange of quantum bits (qubits) – which have a number of features very different from the bits in commonplace networks. For example, quantum communication is potentially immune to eavesdropping practices. Quantum networks are expected to evolve over time towards a global quantum network allowing secure communication, position verification, clock synchronisation, computation using external quantum computers, and more.

  • QuTech is a leading R&D institute for advanced research in the field of quantum computing and quantum internet.
  • SURF is the collaborative organisation for ICT in Dutch education and research.
  • OPNT is a Dutch enterprise which has its roots in the science department of VU University Amsterdam.

The project will focus on connecting different quantum processors, a significant distance apart, over a Dutch network. The aim is to build the very first fully functional quantum network using high-speed fibre connections.

A quantum network is a radically new internet technology, with the potential for creating pioneering applications. Such a network connects quantum processors to each other via optical channels, and this enables the exchange of so-called quantum bits (qubits). Qubits have a number of features that make them very different from the bits we currently know and use in classical networks. For example, quantum communication is potentially immune to eavesdropping practices. Quantum communication networks are expected to evolve over time towards a global quantum network, and this would allow secure communication; position verification; clock synchronisation; computation using external quantum computers; and more. Among other things, the project is intended to lead to new techniques, insights and standards that will bring a quantum network closer.

Different parties in the collaboration each contribute their own areas of expertise. Ultimately, the mix of skills will help to create a programmable quantum network that connects quantum processors in different cities. Erwin van Zwet, Internet Division Engineering Lead at QuTech, underlined the project’s importance: “Working with these partners, we expect to have taken significant steps towards a quantum network by the end of the TKI project.”

Although the technology is still at an early stage, all four parties see the benefit of joining forces now. Wojciech Kozlowski, a postdoc at QuTech and responsible for one of the work packages in the TKI project: “Every day we are working on finding answers to the question of how network operators, such as KPN or SURF, can deploy a quantum network, and what sort of services they can offer their users. Although we are still in an early stage of development, we are already building the quantum internet ecosystem of the future by working with key partners. This ecosystem will prove crucial as our quantum network evolves into a fully-fledged quantum internet.”

References:

https://www.commsupdate.com/articles/2020/11/27/kpn-collaborating-on-quantum-network-development/

https://www.thefastmode.com/technology-solutions/18583-dutch-operator-kpn-join-forces-with-r-d-institutes-to-build-quantum-network

https://www.overons.kpn/en/news/2020/qutech-kpn-surf-and-opnt-join-forces-to-build-a-quantum-network