Toshiba Europe shows 400Gbit/s QKD quantum network

Toshiba Europe shows 400Gbit/s QKD quantum network

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Toshiba Europe has teamed with Orange for a long distance quantum network operating alongside existing telecoms fibre.

The network, secured with quantum key distribution (QKD), showed 400Gbit/s quantum secure data transmission over a 184km fibre link with three QKD links and two trusted nodes.

The lab evaluations replicated the network architectures, data transmission and multiplexing schemes currently in use and showed that today’s networks and data can easily and practically be protected from attack by quantum computers.

The growing power and availability of quantum computing means that current public key encryption methods could soon be rendered insecure. QKD, which uses the quantum properties of light to generate and propagate quantum bits used to establish secure keys, provides protection against key theft threats, but can face challenges in being successfully deployed on current networks that are designed to only carry classical data signals.

Using QKD on these already deployed fibre networks provides significant cost savings and increased deployment speed as it removes the need to use dedicated fibres for QKD transmission.

Researchers set up a 184km-long network, consisting of three QKD links deployed over sections of standard single-mode fibre and two trusted nodes, representing a typical metro-based fibre network.

The Toshiba Quantum Key Management System was used to ensure delivery of quantum secure keys across the network to encryption devices. Adtran’s FSP 3000 open optical transport technology and Adva Network Security’s ConnectGuard technology supported the encryption of data within the network.

Each section of the 184km three link QKD network was equipped with Toshiba’s commercial QKD systems, with quantum-secure encrypted data transmission of a 100Gbps tributary encapsulated in a 400Gbps channel, reflecting transfer rates commonly used in commercial settings.

Researchers measured the overall secret key rates (SKRs) to evaluate the success of the QKD deployment across the network. The SKRs measured from tens to hundreds of kbps show that QKD secret keys could be easily exploited and employed by already deployed 100Gbit/s WDM systems and up-coming 400Gbit/s WDM channels with quantum bit error rates (QBER) comfortably below set thresholds despite the overall complexity of the network.

Overall, findings from the evaluations demonstrated the practicality of QKD coexisting on deployed fibre networks with end-to-end high speed encrypted data transmission across multiple extended fibre links and trusted nodes.

“Data security is the bedrock of our services at Orange, and we’re excited to reveal the successful outcomes of our collaboration with Toshiba,” stated Laurent Leboucher, Group CTO and SVP, Orange Innovation Networks.” Our last work demonstrates that quantum key distribution (QKD) can be integrated into existing regional network infrastructures, marking a significant advancement in quantum-secure communications. Working with Toshiba was essential to demonstrate that such innovations could benefit to our customers.”

“We’ve seen that many organizations are moving from merely evaluating the threat posed by quantum computing to taking action to protect themselves,” said Dr Andrew Shields, Head of the Toshiba Quantum Technology Division. “These lab evaluations have demonstrated that our QKD technology can be successfully deployed on real-life networks for real-life applications, today, without the need for further investment in new infrastructure. It’s been a pleasure to work with operators like Orange to test the viability of the QKD technology use in today’s networks, and we look forward to helping organizations protect their communications now and into the future.”

As part of the evaluations, Toshiba and Orange tested two different types of QKD technology within the end-to-end system. Two 67km sections used Toshiba’s Long-Distance (LD) QKD technology, which uses two fibres to carry both quantum and classical signals, while one 50km section used Toshiba’s Multiplexed (MU) QKD technology on which the quantum channel co-propagates with the data channels.


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