ABB buys quantum communications supplier for power networks

ABB buys quantum communications supplier for power networks

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Keymile supplies quantum-cryptography systems for communications networks used by railway companies and power utilities. The company is headquartered in Hanover, Germany with 350 employees globally and was founded in 2002 through a merger of three technology companies in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and is a manufacturer of mission-critical and broadband telecommunication solutions, with installations across 100 countries. The 120 employees of the acquired business will join the Grid Automation business unit of ABB’s Power Grids division.

The acquisition will bring with it key products, software and service solutions, as well as research and development expertise, to ABB’s digital offering, ABB Ability, by adding extremely reliable communications technologies that are essential to maintain today’s dynamic and complex digital electrical grids. The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2017.

Reliable information is key to quick and accurate decision making in today’s increasingly automated world; this is particularly true of sprawling, connected networks. The operation of mission-critical systems such as electrical grids requires communication networks with unparalleled performance and robustness based on special technology, protocols and software. Keymile has been shipping an encryption card for its network access and transmission platform for over a year using a Quantum Randon Number Generator (QNRG) from ID Quantique (IDQ) in Switzerland to generate encrpytion keys. 

“The acquisition of Keymile’s mission-critical communication business will strengthen this position and extend our market reach in the industrial, transportation and infrastructure sectors,” said Claudio Facchin, President of ABB Power Grids Division. “This move supports our growth plans and digitalization push as part of our ABB Ability offering, as we strengthen our position as the partner of choice in enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid.”“Reliable telecommunications become increasingly important as the number of connected devices increases. While digitalization provides opportunities for operational efficiencies and asset optimization, it also brings new complexities in maintaining mission-critical operations,” said Rolf Unterberger, CEO of KEYMILE. “We are very pleased that industry leader ABB will acquire our mission-critical communication networks business, which will enable the continued development of cutting-edge products, software and service solutions for grid operations.”

IDQ has also licensed its QNRG technology to SK Telecom, which has developed a 5 x 5mm chip to provide enhance security in applications in the Internet of things such as autonomous vehicles, drones and smart devices. Although the Korean telecoms operator hasn’t given the price of each QRNG chip, the company said that it will be the lowest price ever for a QRNG. The chip uses micro machined MEMS structures to trap ions that use quantum interactions to produce true random numbers.

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