BT and Toshiba to trial EY’s ‘quantum secure’ network
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:

BT has announced an expansion of its partnership with Toshiba to launch the first commercial trial of a quantum-secured network to connect two sites in London.

The test of quantum key distribution (QKD) will be run by professional services group EY over BT's Openreach fibre network with Toshiba providing the QKD equipment and key management software.

QKD technology allows parties sending and receiving data to share a random secret key using photonics, with security properties based on the laws of quantum mechanics. This includes the fact that observation of a quantum system changes the system so that if a third party attempts to observe the data during transit, the security system will be alerted, aborting the transfer and warning both the sender and receiver.

The test will see EY use the quantum network to communicate between two of its sites in London, one at London Bridge and the other at Canary Wharf. It is expected that quantum technology will be capable of processing data at a rate millions of times faster than traditional supercomputers in the near future.

According to BT, quantum computer-enabled cyber-attacks could be possible by 2025 and will be likely within the following decade. The emergence of quantum computers represents a major problem for data security that EY is seeking to create a solution for in advance of the technology reaching maturity.

FIND OUT MORE: Facing the cyber security challenge

Praveen Shankar, EY’s UK managing partner for technology, said: “Quantum technology creates new and significant opportunities for business, but presents potential risks.

“Quantum secure data transmission represents the next major leap forward in protecting data, an essential component of doing business in a digital economy. Our work with two of the world’s leading technology innovators will allow us to demonstrate the power of quantum to both EY and our clients.”

The trial is the latest collaboration between BT and Toshiba on quantum technology, having previously collaborated on the first UK deployment of QKD technology, transmitting quantum-secured data between the National Composites Centre and the Centre for Modelling & Simulation in Bristol in 2020. The duo have continued to create a quantum-secured metro network connecting sites including London Docklands, the City, and the M4 Corridor over the past year.

BT’s chief technology officer, Howard Watson, said: “This is a significant moment in the UK’s journey towards a quantum-enabled economy, but we’re not there yet. Further investment commitments will be required to broaden the study of quantum technologies that will contribute to this new economy, including quantum computing, quantum cryptography and quantum communications. We look forward to working with our government and industry partners to continue the momentum BT has started and shaping the UK’s quantum strategy.”

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