Commercial quantum network in London

The need for migration to quantum safe cryptography is looming large on corporate radars. BT & Toshiba have launched a 3-year commercial trial of quantum secured communication services in London.

When a large enough quantum computer is available, we know it will be able to break the current public key cryptography on which Internet and corporate network security depends. Worse, data intercepted and stored today is already vulnerable to decrypt by this future threat.

Targeting clients in London who require enduring security, BT & Toshiba have launched a metro network service secured via QKD. The service connects the City & West End to the M4 corridor (where many datacentres are located). This is a seminal event. No longer just R&D, customers can connect over their existing standard fibre links. Real BT engineers and real BT account managers are now set to play their part in proving whether this technology is ready to find a market. In a canny move, their inaugural customer is EY, the leading professional services firm. Success will be measured in terms of how many others choose to join it.

This also highlights a floating moment for the UK’s quantum strategy. Phases 1 & 2 of the UK’s ground breaking National Quantum Technology Programme, NQTP, have been widely praised (and widely copied). But that money is now largely spent. We can certainly expect more action on quantum computing, but will the government also seize on the mission to build a national quantum communication infrastructure? Unprompted, the market just isn’t ready to go so fast. Some voices, such as the NCSC, have been sceptical of the short-term need, pointing to the alternatives offered by emerging PQC standards. But a continued focus on quantum networking is required to maximise momentum for the UK’s thriving quantum ecosystem (Toshiba’s world leading QKD kit is designed and built in the UK). Notably the EU is forging ahead with its own EuroQCI initiative.

Is this a first step on the long-road to build a true Quantum Internet? Fact Based Insight believes that taking part in the journey may be a key driver for 21st century economic success.

For a full analysis of across post-quantum cryptography and quantum cryptography and the future of quantum networking please read Quantum Internet Outlook 2022

David Shaw

About the Author

David Shaw has worked extensively in consulting, market analysis & advisory businesses across a wide range of sectors including Technology, Healthcare, Energy and Financial Services. He has held a number of senior executive roles in public and private companies. David studied Physics at Balliol College, Oxford and has a PhD in Particle Physics from UCL. He is a member of the Institute of Physics. Follow David on Twitter and LinkedIn

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