Deutsche Telekom exploring quantum tech with OPENQKD
Deutsche Telekom (DT) has partnered with the OPENQKD (Open European Quantum Key Distribution) consortium to help research quantum key distribution (QKD) technologies, with a particular focus on developing quantum-safe data transmission.
The German telco is helping to develop a test-bed in Berlin, where researchers are making use of DT’s 100km fibre optic network to explore the limits of this new technology, as well as exploring telco-specific applications, like encrypting 5G connections.
Quantum technology is still in its infancy with very few practical applications, but it has the potential to be revolutionary for a whole host of industries, not least computing, where quantum computers are expected to solve complex equations in seconds, which would take conventional computers hundreds of years.
For the telecoms sector, QKD is a particularly interesting application of quantum principles. Often falsely referred to as ‘quantum cryptography’, QKD creates a random secret key for the communication between two parties, which is then used to encrypt and decrypt messages for a more secure data transfer, like a traditional security key. However, the nature of the quantum system makes it very sensitive to outside observation; any third party attempting to access the data in any way will disturb the system, automatically aborting the data communication and alerting the communicating parties.
In short, QKD networks could revolutionise telco network security in the future, but right now the technology is very expensive and traditional security key systems work adequately. The OPENQKD consortium, which features 38 members, is looking to rapidly develop this technology, where it is hoped it will find use in securing confidential data between government ministries and critical infrastructure.
The consortium is currently testing QKD tech at 16 locations, including four major environments in Vienna, Poznan, Madrid and Berlin.
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