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BT, Toshiba and EY launch quantum network trial

BT Tower.jpg

Trials of a "world first commercial quantum secured metro network" launched in London yesterday, which uses quantum key distribution (QKD) to help secure the transmission of data and information between multiple physical locations.

BT and Toshiba launched the trial at BT Tower on 26th April, alongside their first customer EY, and using Openreach private fibre.

The multinational professional services firm will use the network to connect two of its sites in London – at Canary Wharf and near London Bridge – to demonstrate how data secured using QKD can move between sites. The trial will also showcase "the benefits this network brings to [EY's] own customers".

Howard Watson, CTO at BT, commented: “Quantum-enabled technologies are expected to have a profound impact on how society and business operates in the future, but they are remarkably complex to understand, develop and build: in particular, ensuring that the end-to-end service designs meet the stringent security requirements of the market.

"I’m incredibly proud that BT and Toshiba have successfully united to deliver this unique network, and with EY as our first trial customer, we are paving the way for further commercial explorations for quantum technologies and their use in commercial, and societal applications in the future.”

News of the project first broke in October, with BT initially planning to operate a network from London to Bristol. As Capacity reported at the time, BT and Toshiba have been working together on quantum encryption for at least three years.

As confirmed today, BT will operate the quantum network, providing "a range of quantum-secured services including dedicated high bandwidth end-to-end encrypted links, delivered over Openreach’s private fibre networks".

Toshiba will provide QKD hardware and key management software. In the network, QKD keys will be combined with the in-built ethernet security, based on public-key based encryption, which will enable the resultant keys to be used to encrypt the data.

Shunsuke Okada, corporate senior vice president and chief digital officer of Toshiba commented: “Both Toshiba and BT have demonstrated world-class technology development and leadership through decades of innovation and operation. Combining BT’s leadership in networks technologies and Toshiba’s leadership in quantum technologies has brought this network to life, allowing businesses across London to benefit from quantum secured communications for the first time.”

BT said The London network represents "a critical step towards reaching the UK government’s strategy to become a quantum-enabled economy".

George Freeman, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, HM Government, said: “I am very pleased to see the first trial by BT and Toshiba of a commercial quantum secured metro network, which represents significant progress towards achieving our ambition to make the UK a quantum-enabled economy. This is the kind of innovation that helps cement the UK as a global innovation economy in the vanguard of discovering, developing and commercially adopting transformational technology with real societal benefits.”