Orange and Adtran demonstrate 400G transmission of quantum key distribution (QKD) technology

Oct. 9, 2023
The joint trial features Adtran’s open DWDM system, QKD key exchange, and Adva Network Security quantum-safe encryption.

Orange recently conducted a lab trial with Adtran of quantum key distribution (QKD) technology, marking what the two companies say is a crucial step towards safeguarding real-world networks from the threat of quantum computer attacks.

Using an arrangement for advanced QKD and WDM technologies, the multi-vendor demonstration showcased 400 Gbps transmission of a QKD-secured 100 Gbps data stream over a 184 km SSMF through three QKD links and two trusted nodes. A hybrid approach combining classical cryptography and QKD was utilized.

Running over heterogeneous end-to-end infrastructure, the two companies said the trial demonstrates the technology’s maturity for widespread commercial deployment. Both the Layer 1 encryption and hybrid key exchange used in the trial are enabled by Adva Network Security’s ConnectGuard solution.

“As we navigate the opportunities and challenges that quantum computing presents, we’re beginning a new era in network security. Our successful lab trial with Adtran highlights the magnitude of industry collaboration required to harness the full potential of quantum technology and secure our digital future,” said Gilles Bourdon, VP of wireline networks and infrastructure at Orange. “The synergy between Adtran’s FSP 3000 open optical transport technology, Adva Network Security’s ConnectGuard encryption, Toshiba’s latest QKD systems, and our expertise in network integration sets a formidable benchmark for quantum-resistant communications across Europe.”

The trial featured Adtran’s FSP 3000 with OpenFabric™️ technology for encryption key distribution and optimized link performance. Leveraging a coherent 400Gbps DP-16QAM channel, the platform transported a QKD-secured data stream across two trusted nodes and three links, spanning 184km of standard, single-mode dark fiber. One of the trial’s key achievements was overcoming data loss and distance constraints while transporting significant volumes of quantum-secure data alongside the quantum channel.

The trial introduced a hybrid key exchange, blending classical asymmetric methods with QKD, creating a robust dual layer of security. While classical key exchange ensures immediate data protection in line with current cryptographic standards and governmental approval, QKD offers future-proof security, resilient against future computational advancements. The trial details were presented in Glasgow, UK, at ECOC 2023.

“We’ve also always been committed to championing interoperability, promoting and contributing to open standards, such as the ETSI interface for QKD key delivery,” said Christoph Glingener, CTO of Adtran. Our latest collaboration with Orange emphasizes that an open, cooperative approach in designing and implementing QKD solutions is indispensable to propel this vital technology at the speed we all require.”

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