UK Quantum Networks

The Quantum Communications Hub and its partners, academic and industrial, have established the UK’s first Quantum Networks:

  • UKQN.  A research-focused network, connecting the multi-node quantum ‘metro’ networks in the cities of Bristol and Cambridge over the National Dark Fibre Infrastructure Service.
  • UKQNtel.  A quantum-secure connection between the Cambridge node of the UKQN and Adastral Park, home to BT’s Research & Innovation Labs and Innovation Martlesham, the ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) cluster that has grown around it.

Extending over 410km in the south of England, the networks include a range of connecting technologies, from city-scale ‘metro’ (multiple inter-connected nodes in urban environments), to inter-city ‘backbone’ (connecting ‘metro’ networks along a common spine).  Many-to-one ‘Access’ connections (providing multiple individual access points to individual network nodes) will also be deployed to increase the density of users in specific locations.

Central to both networks is Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), an established quantum technology for the provably secure distribution of secret keys for the encryption of data. The encrypted data may then be transmitted over conventional communications media – typically standard optical fibre – and securely stored.

The quantum networks may be used for a variety of purposes:

  • Research & Development – for new technologies, systems, theoretical approaches and protocols
  • Applications – from system-level management of keys, and their distribution for transparent use, to higher-level applications for securing services
  • Technology Testing – by experimentalist researchers, developers of systems and system integrators
  • Demonstration and User Engagement – a demonstration showcase for technologies and services, a means to engage with potential users and suppliers of services
  • Trials – of technologies, systems and applications with early adopters

For further information about the Hub’s networks, and discussion of options for their access and use, contact

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