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BT and Toshiba to launch quantum-secured network across London

The two companies say this is the first commercially available network of its kind

BT and Toshiba are set to build and trial a quantum-secured metro network in London, which the companies say is the world’s first commercially available network of its kind.

The new network will connect sites in London’s Docklands, the City, and the M4 Corridor, and will provide data services secured using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) and Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC).

Building on the point-to-point solution launched last year for Bristol-based National Composites Centre and Centre for Modelling and Simulation, the network will be extended to serve multiple customers across London.

The initial trial of the network will be for enterprise customers who are carrying sensitive traffic, like database backups, between sites, and will explore potential future offerings like encrypted links and “quantum keys as a service”.

Operated by BT, the network will provide quantum-secured services including dedicated high bandwidth end-to-end encrypted links, delivered over Openreach’s Optical Spectrum Access Filter Connect (OSA FC) for private fibre networks. The QKD links will be provided through a quantum network that includes both core and access components and will be integrated into BT’s existing network management operations. Toshiba will supply quantum key distribution hardware and key management software.

“We’re excited to be taking this collaboration to the next level by building the world’s first commercially operational quantum-secured metro network in London,” said Howard Watson, CTO of BT.

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“Secure, robust and trusted data transfer is increasingly crucial to our customers across the globe, so we’re proud of the role our Quantum R&D programme is playing in making the world’s networks safer as we enter the dawn of a new age of quantum computing.”

In September, BT announced it had conducted the world’s first trial of QKD over hollow-core fibre cable. The technology can be used to conduct ultra-secure communications with reduced latency and no appreciable crosstalk. The company used a cable with a hollow, air-filled centre, which allowed signals to be transmitted over quantum light on a single photon channel, instead of glass used in optical fibre communications.

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