A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) could see the South Korean mobile operator “establish an entity in Luxembourg”, as the partners seek to collaborate on the nascent technology

This week, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister and Minister for Communications and Media, Xavier Bettel, and Minister of Economy, Franz Fayot, met with SK Telecom (SKT)’s CEO Young Sang Ryu to discuss collaborating on the emerging quantum technology market.

The resulting MoU will see SKT “consider to establish an entity in Luxembourg, in view of developing mutually beneficial opportunities for the Luxembourg quantum ecosystem”. In particular, the agreement will seek to further cooperation on the standardisation process of quantum technologies and expanding the wider quantum ecosystem.

“Thanks to the complementarity of SKT’s leadership in quantum technologies and Luxembourg’s implementation of the LuxQCI initiative and its leadership in the fields of satellites and innovative data centers, this memorandum of understanding is a significant step in our endeavor to develop better technologies, infrastructures and services in the quantum field,” stated Xavier Bettel.

The new agreement builds on a previous MoU, signed earlier this summer by the South Korean and Luxembourg governments, aiming to expand collaboration on many facets of quantum technology, including cryptography, computing, and the so-called ‘quantum Internet of Things’.

“South Korea and Luxembourg are strong economic partners and have much in common as pioneers of innovation and leaders in the high-tech and digital arenas. The signature of this memorandum of understanding perfectly underlines the close ties between our countries that exist for a long time, as well as the fruitful collaborations between our companies,” said Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot.

SKT’s interest in quantum technology has been evident for years, with the company first establishing a quantum tech research lab back in 2011. Since then, the company has become something of a leader in this space and, by 2019, was already integrating parts of the new technology alongside its new 5G network.

More recently, it has been working alongside Equinix to develop a quantum key distribution (QKD)-as-a-service offering.

Of course, SKT is not the only telco exploring the implications of quantum technology for their networks. Earlier this year, for example, Deutsche Telekom became the latest in a string of telcos to open its own quantum research lab, in this case connecting to a 2,000km fibre optic network to allow for thorough testing.

Indeed, as the technology gradually begins to crest the collective horizon, we can expect more and more telcos to take notice of its development, not least because the quantum computing represents an existential threat to traditional public key cryptography algorithms – the algorithms typically safeguarding telco data around the world.

But while quantum technology is still in its infancy, SKT’s focus of late has been on another hot technology that appears to be advancing at a far faster pace: Artificial Intelligence. SKT has long signalled its intention to become a world leading AI company and, notably becoming one of the four founding telcos (alongside e&, Deutsche Telekom, and Singtel) of the Global Telco AI Alliance earlier in the year.

And, in recent months, the company has rapidly begun to put its money where its mouth is.

In August, SKT invested $100 million in the AI company Anthropic, aiming to develop a large language model customised for global telcos. That same month, the company also took a major stake in AI contact centre specialist Persona AI, seeking to streamline and improve customer service.

The company has also recently overhauled its AI service called ‘A.’, integrating a ChatGPT model that will allow customers to ask questions and receive answers from a number of different AI agents.

Is the emergence of quantum technology set to be a watershed moment for the telecoms sector? Join the operators in discussion at this year’s Total Telecom Congress live in Amsterdam

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