BT and Toshiba Europe have installed the UK’s first industrial quantum-secure network.
The 6km link connects the National Composites Centre (NCC) research and development facility and the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS) in Bristol as part of the AQuaSeC project to demonstrate how Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) can be used to securely share encryption keys using a stream of single photons.
This replaces a ‘manual’ approach of physically transporting sensitive data on portable storage devices between the NCC and CFMS sites in Emerson’s Green and Filton in North Bristol, as well as at the University of Bristol.
Using standard optical fibre from Openreach, Toshiba’s QKD system enables the distribution of thousands of cryptographic keys per second. Its innovative multiplexing compatibility allows the data and the quantum keys to be transmitted on the same fibre, eliminating the need for costly dedicated infrastructure for key distribution.
While the first deployment covers a range of 6km, the current maximum range extends up to 120km, allowing ultra-secure data transmission across major metropolitan environments.
The network also benefits from Toshiba’s Active Stabilisation technology, which allows the system to distribute key material continuously, in even the most challenging operating conditions, without any user intervention. This avoids the need for recalibration of the system due to temperature-induced changes in the fibre lengths.
“This first industrial deployment of a quantum-secure network in the UK is a significant milestone as we move towards a quantum-ready economy. We’re excited to be working alongside our long-term partner in Toshiba, as well as the NCC and CFMS as industry-leading bodies in the UK, to demonstrate the ultra-secure nature of quantum cryptography,” said Prof. Andrew Lord, Head of Optical Technology at BT. “The power of quantum computing offers unprecedented opportunity for UK industry, but this is an essential first step to ensure its power can be harnessed in the right way and without compromising security.”
“Our solution can be implemented