Construction of quantum networks is taking place in numerous countries across the world, with notable and well-publicised examples already operational in China and the Netherlands. In the UK, the Quantum Communications Hub is developing national quantum networking capability through construction of the UKQN (the UK’s first Quantum Network) and UKQNtel.
The UKQN is an R&D-focused network, connecting the multi-node quantum ‘metro’ (metropolitan access) networks in the cities of Bristol and Cambridge utilising the National Dark Fibre Facility. The UKQN has a length of 410km, over four links, with three intermediate nodes and comprises four spans of 129, 112, 51 and 118 km, with the furthest distance between trusted nodes being 129 km.
The UKQNtel network, operational since March 2019, is a unique facility, which extends over 125km and utilises previously installed standard commercial grade optical fibre, thus providing a real-world environment for field trials of new quantum secure communications technologies and systems. The network operates with commercial QKD equipment, contains trusted nodes in BT Exchanges and, very importantly, demonstrates that quantum key signals can be sent in the same fibre as the high-rate encrypted data.
The UKQNtel network provides a test-bed for the integration of quantum-safe communications technologies – both QKD and quantum-resistant cryptography – within the conventional communications base. This is paving the way for integration within the wider national communications infrastructure, in order to ensure cybersecurity in the future quantum-enabled world.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Quantum Communications Hub work in delivering quantum secure networks, please contact us.