This is a pilot study aiming to establish the feasibility of a quantum communications link between data centres in the UK and Ireland connected by three legs of optical fibre including a 224-km low-loss submarine optical fibre between Southport and Portrane. No quantum link has ever been established between the two countries, and none has ever been attempted worldwide covering as long a distance as this one over deployed submarine optical fibres.
The experimental setup will utilise a new submarine fibre link, named “Rockabill”, recently deployed by project partner euNetworks, which features low attenuation and short latency. When combined, these are key advantages in e.g. high-speed financial transaction scenarios requiring the future-proof security provided by quantum communications. If successful, this QKD connection will further extend the Hub established UK Quantum Network (UKQN), currently confined to the South of England, by paving the way to linking Manchester and Dublin Data Centres and an even longer backbone quantum network between York and Cork. Importantly, this development will also mark the first ever quantum communication link in the Irish Sea over industrial low-latency cables at a considerably longer distance compared to anything similar performed before.