BT planning to have London QKD network ready this month

By Dan O'Shea posted 04 Apr 2022

U.K. telecom network operator BT later this month is expected to launch a commercial quantum key distribution (QKD) network in London, a small-scale project that was announced last fall by BT and its QKD hardware partner Toshiba.

Andrew Lord, senior manager of Optical Networks and Quantum Research at BT Global Services, revealed that news in a recent wide-ranging interview with IQT News, an edited version of which will be published at a later date. It is believed to be the first time BT has mentioned a general time range target for the network’s launch.

Lord, who also recently spoke at February’s IQT The Hague event, said during the interview, “There are going to be nodes in London, which are going to be BT exchanges in London that will be quantum-enabled. They will have QKD between them, and then we’ll be sending offshoot spurs off to customers…It’s a network, not just a point to point link. We’ve done point-to-point QKD for the last seven or eight years and now we understand how to do that.”

He added, “But at some point, you have to have ‘networkize’–probably not a word–but you have to turn your QKD technology into a network capability. Which is what we do with regular network networks… They aggregate capacities together and put them on shared infrastructure, and QKD has to be able to do the same thing for it to be a cost-effective tool.”

Integrating QKD into a network setting, and tying it into BT exchanges, software management systems, alarm systems, and data communications network is a step toward making quantum “business as usual” in telecom networks, he said.

Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.

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