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GSMA sets up taskforce to consider quantum impact on telecoms

Alex Sinclair GSMA.jpg

The GSMA has set up a taskforce to look at the impact of quantum technology on the mobile industry and to help define quantum-era policy and regulations.

The mobile industry’s trade association announced the initiative last night at its Las Vegas Mobile World Congress (MWC) event, and said IBM and Vodafone are the initial members.

Alex Sinclair (pictured), the GSMA’s CTO, said: “By working together to establish consistent policies, we can define quantum-safe approaches that protect critical infrastructure and customer data, complementing our ongoing security efforts to increase resiliency in future networks.”

The GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce will will work in three areas – strategy, standardisation and policy – to help define operators’ business processes for the enhanced protection of telecoms in a future of advanced quantum computing, said the organisation.

It will help define requirements, identify dependencies and create the roadmap to implement quantum-safe networking, mitigating the risks associated with future, more-powerful quantum computers.

Sinclair said: “The GSMA Taskforce’s goal is to bring together leading global communication services providers with experts from IBM, Vodafone and other operators and ecosystem partners to understand and implement quantum-safe technology.”

It is clear from Sinclair’s comment that the GSMA is looking for other companies to join the taskforce.

Luke Ibbetson, head of R&D at Vodafone, said: “Quantum computing is by far the biggest revolution in computing since the 1950s, and most of it will have a positive impact on our industry and society as we move towards fully automated networks. It has the potential to solve highly complex optimisation challenges which may allow us to further fine-tune our networks for an even better customer experience.”

IBM’s Steve Canepa, general manager of its global industries unit, said: “In a modern hybrid cloud world, communications services and compute technologies are interconnected and underpin all industries, which means the adoption of quantum-safe cryptography in telecom will affect all enterprises and consumers.”

The GSMA quoted the World Economic Forum’s recent estimation that more than 20 billion digital devices will need to be either upgraded or replaced in the next 10-20 years to use the new forms of quantum-safe encrypted communication.