Could the UK’s Quantum Networks ensure long-distance secure communications for the quantum-enabled world?
Modern society relies upon electronic communications and the internet, for which optical fibre networks form the foundations. Given the serious cybersecurity threats imposed by major advances in quantum computing, there is now a growing need to incorporate new security technologies into fibre networks. Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a mature quantum technology, which underpins secure communications and other transactions through the secure distribution of cryptographic keys. Work is underway investigating the integration of QKD, alongside new quantum-resistant cryptography, into existing fibre networks.
Construction of quantum networks is taking place in numerous countries across the world, with notable examples already operational in China and the Netherlands. In the UK, the Quantum Communications Hub is developing national quantum networking capability through construction of the UKQN (the UK’s first Quantum Network) and UKQNtel.
The UKQN is a research focused network, over 410km in length, and connects the quantum networks in the cities of Bristol and Cambridge over the National Dark Fibre Facility.
The UKQNtel network is a unique facility, which extends over 125km and utilises previously installed standard commercial grade optical fibre and provides a real-world environment for field trials of new quantum secure communications technologies and systems.
The UK’s quantum networks are paving the way for integration of quantum networks within the wider national communications infrastructure, in order to ensure cybersecurity in the future quantum-enabled world. For further information, check out the Quantum Communications Hub's video on the UK Quantum Network.