TIM uses quantum computing live on its mobile networks

TIM uses quantum computing live on its mobile networks

26 February 2020 | Natalie Bannerman

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Telecom Italia (TIM) has become the first European operator to integrate quantum computing algorithms in planning its next-gen networks.

TIM has leveraged quantum computing to optimise the planning of radio cells, framing the problem within a quadratic unconstrained binary optimisation (QUBO) algorithmic model, carried out on D-Wave's 2000Q quantum computer. In doing so, TIM is able to develop radio cell planning that ensures reliable mobile services with high performance.

By combining quantum computing in telco networks takes a leaf out of existing use cases in the financial, automotive and chemical industries. The QUBO algorithm has been used to plan 4.5G and 5G network parameters, performing 10 times faster than traditional optimisation methods.

The company says that the ability to configure the network in real-time is vital in being able to provide customers with better mobile service, amid growing computing speeds and evolving quantum computer technology.

The ability to complete real-time network configuration, according to TIM is part of the self-organising network ‘closed circuit’, already in use by the company based on field measurements and rapid reconfiguration of network elements.

The use of the QUBO algorithm in the planning of cell IDs, which allows smartphones to distinguish each radio cell from the other, gives TIM customers greater voice over LTE service quality, improving its stability when on the move.

Quantum computers are based on qubits, basic units of information similar to traditional bits that exploit the principles of quantum mechanics to process complex problems and large calculations in extremely short times compared to traditional computers - making its future application vast.

Earlier this month, TIM was rumoured to being close to choosing private equity firm KKR to support it in its merger with Open Fiber. According to sources speaking to Bloomberg, TIM was close to selecting KKR due to the company’s previous interest in investing in TIM’s secondary network, specifically the part that connects street cabinets to subscribers’ homes.