Toshiba and Orange demo quantum-secure fibre data transmission

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Toshiba and Orange have achieved significant milestones in quantum-secure data transmission. Through a meticulous series of evaluations, the two companies have showcased the practicality of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology in safeguarding data transmitted over fibre optic networks.

The evaluations, which were carried out in laboratory settings, encompassed several key achievements. 

Initially, the tests demonstrated the co-existence of QKD alongside a high volume of conventional Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) data signals. Subsequently, the researchers achieved a remarkable feat by successfully transmitting quantum secure data at speeds of 400Gbit/s over a 184km fibre link. This accomplishment involved the deployment of three QKD links and two trusted nodes, one of which facilitated the co-existence of QKD and classical data.

One of the primary challenges addressed by this research is the looming threat posed by quantum computing to traditional public key encryption methods. As quantum computing capabilities continue to advance, current encryption techniques risk becoming vulnerable to attacks.

QKD, which harnesses the unique properties of quantum mechanics to generate and propagate secure cryptographic keys, offers a promising solution to mitigate these threats. However, integrating QKD into existing fibre networks designed for classical data transmission presents its own set of challenges.

Through their collaborative efforts, Toshiba and Orange have demonstrated that QKD technology can seamlessly integrate with today’s fibre networks, alongside conventional data services. By deploying QKD on existing fibre infrastructure, significant cost savings can be realised, eliminating the need for dedicated fibres for quantum transmission.

Building upon the success of initial evaluations, further experiments were conducted to evaluate QKD deployment in complex network architectures mirroring real-world scenarios.

A 184km-long network, resembling typical metropolitan fibre deployments, was set up with multiple QKD links and trusted nodes. The Toshiba Quantum Key Management System played a pivotal role in ensuring the secure transmission of quantum keys across the network, supported by advanced encryption technologies from Adtran and Adva Network Security.

The research culminated in the successful transmission of quantum-secure encrypted data at commercial transfer rates, showcasing the viability of QKD in real-life network environments. Overall, the findings underscore the practicality of integrating QKD into deployed fibre networks, enabling end-to-end high-speed encrypted data transmission across multiple extended fibre links and trusted nodes.

“Data security is the bedrock of our services at Orange, and we’re excited to reveal the successful outcomes of our collaboration with Toshiba,” stated Laurent Leboucher, Group CTO and SVP, Orange Innovation Networks.

“Our last work demonstrates that quantum key distribution (QKD) can be integrated into existing regional network infrastructures, marking a significant advancement in quantum-secure communications. Working with Toshiba was essential to demonstrate that such innovations could benefit to our customers.”

As part of the evaluations, Toshiba and Orange tested two variants of QKD technology, showcasing its adaptability to different network configurations. The research paper detailing these experiments provides valuable insights for organisations planning to implement QKD for enhanced data security.

“We’ve seen that many organisations are moving from merely evaluating the threat posed by quantum computing to taking action to protect themselves,” said Dr Andrew Shields, Head of the Toshiba Quantum Technology Division.

“These lab evaluations have demonstrated that our QKD technology can be successfully deployed on real-life networks for real-life applications, today, without the need for further investment in new infrastructure. It’s been a pleasure to work with operators like Orange to test the viability of the QKD technology use in today’s networks, and we look forward to helping organisations protect their communications now and into the future.”

The successful collaboration between Toshiba and Orange represents a significant advancement for quantum-secure communications, offering tangible solutions to address evolving cybersecurity challenges.

(Photo by Roth Melinda on Unsplash)

See also: IBM reveals surge in cyberattacks leveraging compromised accounts

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