BT partners Toshiba to launch quantum secured network with EY
BT, Toshiba and EY have teamed to trial the world’s first commercial quantum secured metro network, connecting numerous EY sites across London.
The infrastructure aims to help enterprises secure the transmission of valuable data and information between multiple physical locations over standard fibre optic links using quantum key distribution (QKD). QKD uses cryptographic protocol and quantum mechanics to offer extra security in communications.
The network’s first commercial customer, EY, will use the network to connect two of its sites in London, one in Canary Wharf, and one near London Bridge. BT’s hope is it will demonstrate how data secured using QKD can move between sites and showcase the benefits this network brings to customers.
The partnership with Toshiba was first announced in October. The network will be operated by the British telco, who will offer a range of quantum-secured services including dedicated high bandwidth end-to-end encrypted links through its Openreach infrastructure.
BT CTO Howard Watson said: “Quantum-enabled technologies are expected to have a profound impact on how society and business operates in the future, but they are remarkably complex to understand, develop and build: in particular, ensuring that the end-to-end service designs meet the stringent security requirements of the market. I’m incredibly proud that BT and Toshiba have successfully united to deliver this unique network, and with EY as our first trial customer, we are paving the way for further commercial explorations for quantum technologies and their use in commercial, and societal applications in the future.”
Toshiba will provide quantum key distribution hardware and key management software. In the network, QKD keys will be combined with the in-built ethernet security, based on public-key based encryption, which will enable the resultant keys to be used to encrypt – and decrypt – the data at EY’s sites.
The development was carried out at BT’s Adastral Park labs in Suffolk, UK, as well as Toshiba’s Quantum technology Business Division which has sites in both Tokyo, Japan, and Cambridge, UK.
Toshiba corporate senior vice president and chief digital officer Shunsuke Okada, added: “Both Toshiba and BT have demonstrated world-class technology development and leadership through decades of innovation and operation. Combining BT’s leadership in networks technologies and Toshiba’s leadership in quantum technologies has brought this network to life, allowing businesses across London to benefit from quantum secured communications for the first time.”
Quantum computing is seen as a key component in the future of computing, with the UK government identifying a “strategic intent” to become a “quantum-enabled economy” as part of a plan first published in 2020. The plan aims to make quantum technologies an integral part of the UK’s digital backbone in the next decade.
The London network, which went live earlier this month but was officially launched at an event at BT Tower, is the first of its kind, according to BT. EY said its work with the two tech giants will allow its to demonstrate the capabilities of quantum to its executives and customers.
Praveen Shankar, EY UK & Ireland managing partner for Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT), said: “Quantum technology creates new and significant opportunities for business, but presents potential risks. Quantum secure data transmission represents the next major leap forward in protecting data, an essential component of doing business in a digital economy.”
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