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IQT The Hague: The quantum internet evolution’s impact on network infrastructure

By Dan O'Shea posted 23 Feb 2022

Given all the talk about quantum internet at IQT’s event in The Hague this week, it might be a good time for network operators and their partners to start figuring out how to support a hybrid world of classical and quantum internets and how that might change their networks in the future.

“The challenge really is how are we going to combine the two [classical and quantum internet], for example, in products that will route both,” said Melchior Aelmans, consulting engineer at Juniper Networks, during a panel session at the event. “So we are at this point, gathering feedback from customers for our destinies who are interested in the subject.”

Juniper figures to be deeply involved in the transition, as its customers include telecom network operators that traditionally buy Juniper’s routers, switches and other networking hardware and software. 

Aelmans added later in the session that current fiber and other network components may need to be modified to support scalable quantum internet use as he notion of a quantum internet evolves to include many entangled quantum computers. “I think in five to 10 years, you will see completely different kinds of equipment, and also software solutions. Currently there are lots of tools to manage how traffic goes through networks. These would also need to be modified obviously to do capacity planning or management in a quantum internet. So there are many changes coming also to routing protocols, hardware, solutions and use cases.”

It should come as no surprise that network security could be one of the first infrastructure areas where quantum technology has an impact. For example, companies increasingly are looking at integrating technologies like quantum random number generation into existing communications network infrastructure. Aelmans said he could envision a use case “where we leverage our SD-WAN solution where we want to use a quantum random number generator in equipment like firewalls and routers and switches. Where and how can we make our security more quantum-resistant?”

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