World’s first quantum metro network in London

October 05, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
World’s first quantum metro network in London
Toshiba and BT are to build the world’s first commercial quantum-secured metropolitan network across London.

The world's first quantum secure network will connect sites in London’s Docklands, the City and the M4 Corridor, and will provide data services secured using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) and Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC).

This follows a demonstration of a point-to-point quantum-secure network link in Bristol and a partnership to run quantum keys over existing fibre-optic cables. Deploying a full quantum-secured metro network environment with multiple endpoints requires new approaches to integration and management.

Operated by BT, the network  provide a range of quantum-secured services including dedicated high bandwidth end-to-end encrypted links, delivered over Openreach’s Optical Spectrum Access Filter Connect (OSA FC) solution for private fibre networks. The QKD links will be provided using a quantum network that includes both core and access components, and will be integrated into BT’s existing network management operations.

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Toshiba will provide quantum key distribution hardware and key management software. Th company has set up a quantum encryption hardware manufacturing business in Cambridge, UK.

In June 2021, Toshiba demonstrated long distance Twin Field QKD system over optical fibres exceeding 600 km using dual band stabilisation technique. The combination of multiplexed QKD using existing infrastructure for metro networks, alongside conventional and Twin Field QKD for longer distances, paves the way for a commercially viable quantum-secure network in the UK.

BT quotes estimates that security attacks using quantum computers will be possible within 5 years, and likely to occur within 10 years. Securing encrypted traffic is a pressing problem today, because data which requires long term security could be at risk of ‘store today, crack later’ attacks, in which the key exchange and encrypted traffic are stored now and broken when a sufficiently powerful quantum computer is available. QKD-based security means the key-exchange is secure against any computational or mathematical advance and so is immune to any present or future attacks by quantum computers.

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