Utility Schleswig-Holstein Netz, ADVA field trial quantum security over aerial fiber

April 26, 2022
ADVA says that there had been doubt in some quarters of the ability to use quantum key distribution technology to secure fiber in utility cables because of their exposure to harsh environmental effects.

ADVA (FSE: ADV) says it has collaborated with northern German power grid operator Schleswig-Holstein Netz on a field trial of quantum-secured data transport. The trial is significant, ADVA says, because it is the first to use a commercial system (the ADVA FSP 3000 with ConnectGuard Layer 1 encryption) to provide security based on quantum key distribution (QKD) on aerial fiber cables alongside high-voltage power lines.

The collaborators performed the proof of concept (PoC) exercise as part of the OPENQKD project, which is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. ADVA says that there had been doubt in some quarters of the ability to use QKD technology to secure such cables because of their exposure to harsh environmental effects. However, the demonstration, which leveraged technology from ADVA’s partner, the quantum cryptography company ID Quantique, showed stable performance. Quantum encryption therefore can be applied to power grids and other network applications that rely on aerial cables.

“The emergence of large quantum computers will jeopardize mission-critical networks like never before. That’s why we’re taking action now and trialing technology to safeguard power infrastructure for the long term. The success of our PoC with ADVA’s secure solution is a key breakthrough for protecting utility networks with QKD,” commented Benjamin Merkt, CTO of Schleswig-Holstein Netz. “We’ve shown that grids like ours that use aerial fiber stretching across hundreds of kilometers can be protected against quantum-enabled hacking, even in adverse climatic conditions. It’s a major step towards guaranteeing the integrity and security of critical data in transit both today and in the post-quantum world.”

“This PoC proves that QKD-based encryption is achievable in network architectures like this. Even with fiber optics integrated with 110-kV overhead lines and unprotected from wind, solar radiation, and thunderstorms, our solution was successful,” aded Helmut Griesser, director of advanced technology at ADVA. “Working closely with Schleswig-Holstein Netz and our partner ID Quantique, we’ve been able to demonstrate that QKD has a major role in safeguarding utilities. We’ve shown that our FSP 3000 ConnectGuard™ encryption has the power to protect our most sensitive and vital assets from cybercriminals even in the age of quantum computers.”

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