QPID: UKQNtel Pilot Implementation and Demonstrator

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Current demonstrations of quantum secured networks within the Quantum Communications Hub have relied upon QKD secured optical communications. For future widespread adoption of quantum secure communications, it will be advantageous to combine QKD secured transmission with post-quantum cryptography in order to address the difficulty of ‘last mile’ access to end-users. Additionally, it is necessary to integrate ‘quantum-safe’ encryption technologies seamlessly into the internet protocol (IP) services which are the world’s de facto communication standard. QPID is a proof-of-concept pilot and demonstrator of a model utilising quantum and post-quantum approaches to secure networks. This entails use of a new system-level interface from Cisco to secure encryption that exploits both quantum and post-quantum technologies. This is the company’s Secure Key Import Protocol – SKIP. The system will be overlaid on the Hub’s quantum-secured short and long distance optical links. The intention is for the pilot to demonstrate the value of both approaches as a means of securing distributed access to multiple users in the real world. The pilot will subsequently be used as part of the evidence-based case for scaled-up implementation involving company users from a range of industry sectors. The project combines  QKD networking expertise and infra-structure already developed within the Hub, with expertise in IP-routing and post-quantum cryptography developed by Cisco to realise a hybrid, post-quantum QKD-secured IP network.