Quantum security era begins as Zayo wins US key distribution deal
Zayo is to provide its dark fibre network for the first quantum key distribution network in the US.
Quantum Xchange’s network will run for 800km between Boston and Washington DC, the first leg of a planned high-security US-wide network.
John Prisco, president and CEO of Quantum Xchange, said: “The Zayo partnership brings us one step closer to lighting up a dark fibre quantum network, marking the first time in history that quantum keys will be exchanged on US soil in a commercial setting.”
The Boston-Washington network will be used, among other things, to connect the financial markets on New York’s Wall Street with back office operations in New Jersey.
Quantum key distribution (QKD) is held by many to be a more secure way of sending encrypted data than today’s RSA [Rivest-Shamir-Adleman] technique. By using quantums of light to distribute the key, interception is made difficult, because if even one quantum is diverted the key does not get through.
“We believe it is critical to establish a QKD defensive strategy before the unprecedented power of quantum computers becomes an offensive weapon,” said Prisco.
Quantum Xchange launched its QKD system, called Phio, in June 2018. The company said: “Quantum keys rely on the fundamental properties of quantum mechanics to physically transfer a shared secret between two entities. By wrapping an encryption key with a photonic quantum key, the photon’s multiple quantum states and no-observation attributes, prevent the transmission from being unknowingly interrupted, corrupted, cloned, or exposed.”
Quantum Xchange has reserved 15 colocation sites with Zayo along the north-east corridor of the US. Phio will be available as a monthly subscription for unlimited use of keys.
The first leg of the QKD network will be operational and accepting customers in the fall of 2018. In addition to financial pilots and proofs of concept, Quantum Xchange is already engaged with an unnamed early adopter that is establishing a link between its innovation centre and intellectual property lawyers.
Jack Waters, CTO of Zayo, said: “With high capacity, low latency and inherent security, Zayo’s dark fibre infrastructure is ideal for the nation’s first QKD network. We look forward to working with Quantum Xchange on this ground-breaking initiative.”
One of the challenges noted by Telefónica in its European research into QKD is that the signals carrying the key – individual quantums of light – can be easily swamped by the signals carrying the data along the same fibre.