What is a Quantum Internet and what does it mean for regular internet users?
What is a quantum internet?
In the simplest of terms, a quantum internet would be one that uses quantum signals instead of radio waves to send information. The internet we know and love uses radio waves to connect multiple computers through a 'world-wide-web' in which electronic signals are sent back and forth. In a quantum internet, signals would be sent through a quantum network using quantum particles - like photons (particles of light).
What does a quantum internet mean for regular internet users?
As far as typical internet surfing goes, probably not much. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be using the quantum internet to update Twitter for example. The quantum internet would excel, however, at sending information securely. Through what’s known as quantum encryption or quantum cryptography, people would be able to send “unhackable” data over a quantum network. This is because quantum cryptography sends an encrypted message and its keys separately. Quantum physics means that tampering with the message causes it to change, which something both the sender and receiver can detect. Work on how to send these "un-hackable" signals is being conducted by NQIT
Are we close?
Scientists and engineers have recently made huge strides in building this quantum communication network. China launched the world’s first quantum communication satellite last year, and more recently they conducted the first unhackable video call with it between Beijing and Vienna.
Anything else it can be used for?
A quantum internet could also speed up access to a working quantum computer by putting quantum computing in the cloud. Instead of trying to get your hands on a physical quantum computer, (which are fragile and hard to make) you could access one through the cloud or interface separate quantum computers around the world to boost computing power.