(Optics.org) UK-based communications giant BT and Toshiba are to build and test what is believed to be the first commercial metropolitan network to feature quantum encryption.
The deployment, across three sites in London, will provide data services secured using both quantum key distribution (QKD) and post-quantum cryptography (PQC) techniques.
It will use Toshiba’s QKD hardware and key management software, and be delivered over BT’s Openreach Optical Spectrum Access Filter Connect (OSA FC) solution for private fiber networks.
The London network will take that a step further: “Deploying a full quantum-secured metro network environment with multiple endpoints requires new approaches to integration and management,” stated the two firms.
“This new network will extend the solution to serve multiple customers across a wide metropolitan area.”
London is seen as an ideal environment to deploy and trial the technology, because of the density of customers handling extremely sensitive data – notably financial and legal institutions.
The new network will connect the City of London with the Docklands area and the so-called “M4 corridor” high-tech hub region around Slough, to the west of the city.
“The initial focus will be to provide trials for enterprise customers who are carrying sensitive traffic (such as database backups) between sites, and to explore potential future offerings such as encrypted links and ‘quantum keys-as-a-service’,” added BT and Toshiba.
Following last year’s installation in Bristol, Toshiba launched its first fully commercial QKD products, manufactured at its site in Cambridge.
The hardware is said to produce 1000’s of keys per second, and offer the longest range of any commercially available fiber QKD system.
“Toshiba’s innovative multiplexing compatibility allows the data and the quantum keys to be transmitted on the same fiber, eliminating the need for costly dedicated infrastructure for key distribution,” claims the Japan-headquartered firm.