BT Labs has opened a test link between its Adastral Park research campus in Ipswitch and a node in Cambridge as part of the UK Quantum Network (UKQN). The UKQN, under the supervision of an industry/research collaboration called Communications Hub, is investigating next-generation security measures, including quantum key distribution (QKD), that likely will become necessary when quantum computing matures sufficiently for use.
The 125-km link between the BT Labs site and Cambridge is part of a larger fiber-optic network that extends over the National Dark Fibre Infrastructure Service to Bristol in the southwest of England. The connections in Cambridge include links to the University of Cambridge as well as to a high-tech industry cluster at Cambridge Science Park. Another cluster, Innovation Martlesham near Ipswich, will be connected on the same end as Adastral Park.
The University of York participated in the link’s construction, while ADVA provided its FSP 3000 optical transport platform. The link and the UKQN as a whole will be used to test a variety of security techniques, including QKD technology supplied by ID Quantique. This most recent development follows previous trial work on QKD via Communications Hub participants (see “Quantum encryption combats threat posed by quantum computing hacks”).
“The first ever commercial-grade, quantum network link between Suffolk and Cambridge is an important step in protecting the UK from cyber threats,” commented Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. “The success of our modern Industrial Strategy depends on us maintaining the UK as a hotbed of innovation. We have identified AI and data as a Grand Challenge to ensure we build on our world-leading reputation in harnessing new technologies, which we will achieve in quantum technology through continued collaboration between industry, government, and the National Quantum Technologies Programme.”
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