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IBM, Vodafone, GSMA unite to further telco adoption of PQC

By Dan O'Shea posted 03 Oct 2022

IBM and European telecom network operator Vodafone are teaming with GSMA, the telecom industry trade group, to establish the GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce to further the development and adoption of post-quantum cryptography (PQC) standards. 

The new task force will focus on the areas of strategy, standardization, and policy development, according to a GSMA statement. In terms of strategy, it will encourage telecom network operators in creating roadmaps to integrate quantum-safe capabilities into their networks, business processes, and security. Regarding standards, the group will help identify the needs and common alignments for PQC to be integrated into existing telco networks, and on the policy front, it will help define regulations and operator policies to drive compliance with PQC standards emerging from the likes of the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST).

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“The GSMA Taskforce’s goal is to bring together leading global communication services providers with experts from IBM, Vodafone, other operators and ecosystem partners to understand and implement quantum-safe technology,” said GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair. “By working together to establish consistent policies, we can define quantum-safe standards that protect critical infrastructure and customer data, complementing our ongoing security efforts to increase resiliency in future networks.”

IBM is an appropriate participant not only because of its pioneering work in teh quantum computing field, but also because it contributed to three of the first four PQC algorithm standards selected by NIST in July for further development. “In a modern Hybrid Cloud world, communications services and compute technologies are interconnected and underpin all industries, which means the adoption of post-quantum cryptography in telecom will affect all enterprises and consumers,” said Steve Canepa, General Manager, Global Industries, IBM. “This taskforce will support the telco industry by creating a roadmap to secure networks, devices and systems across the entire supply chain.” 

To date, most telecom network operators working in the area of quantum-safe security, such as BT and SK Telecom, have been more focused on building out quantum key distribution networks, but the recent emergence of an initial group of PQC standards in progress, and the growing threat of store now/decrypt later security attacks has begun to draw more of their focus to PQC as well.

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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