MWC17: SK Telecom and DT establish Quantum Alliance for secure quantum computing

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From left: Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom Board member for Technology and Innovation, and Cha In-hyok, executive vice president and head of SK Telecom’s IoT Business Division

SK Telecom and Deutsche Telekom have established a Quantum Alliance at the MWC17 in Barcelona to enable secure communication in the coming age of quantum computing.

Industrial espionage and cyber-attacks by hostile intelligence services are an increasing threat. In turn, in the not-too-distant future, quantum computing may provide such powerful performance that it could crack encryption algorithms that are currently considered secure. This would render today’s common cryptography methods virtually useless and make server access, data links and documents freely accessible and viewable with little effort.

Quantum computing, a hot research topic at present, would undermine the foundations of current encryption methods and with them, the security of the entire Internet. But even today, there is a need for tap-proof communication channels for key exchange.

The primary objective of the new Quantum Alliance is to ensure that the technical prerequisites for secure communications continue to be met in the future. To do so, network operators and hardware manufacturers must work together to define and implement technical standards.

As a second step, the alliance will aim to develop flexible services and security solutions for secure communications.

“Committed to building a quantum-safe future, SK Telecom has been actively developing quantum cryptography technologies since 2011. SK Telecom believes that the co-establishment of the Quantum Alliance with Deutsche Telekom will bring us closer to realizing this goal, while also creating new valuable business opportunities in areas including quantum-safe communications, the Internet of Things and big data,” said Cha In-hyok, executive vice president and head of SK Telecom’s IoT Business Division. “We will work together to accelerate the growth of quantum-based cybersecurity technologies and its ecosystem.”

“When it comes to security, we have to think beyond tomorrow. With the Quantum Alliance, we are taking the lead in a technical development that will revolutionize IT,” said Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom board member for Technology and Innovation. “We will help to ensure that communications remain secure even after a breakthrough is made in quantum computing and the first computers hit the market.”

SK Telecom and Deutsche Telekom are committed to recruiting more partners for the Quantum Alliance in the coming weeks and months. The companies intend to approach network operators, network equipment makers, device manufacturers and software vendors.

“A secure global communications network can only work if all the players agree on the same rules. That’s what we’re pushing right now,” said  Nemat.

In related news, SK Telecom entered into an agreement with Nokia to cooperate in the quantum cryptography business.

Under the agreement, SK Telecom and Nokia will conduct joint research and development activities to achieve interworking between SK Telecom’s Quantum Key Distribution System (QKD) and Nokia’s next-generation optical transport system by the second half of this year.

SK Telecom and Nokia have been working together since last year for interoperation of SK Telecom’s quantum technologies with Nokia’s optical transport system. The first prototype of this collaboration, also known as Quantum Transport System, is being demonstrated at Nokia’s booth (Hall 3, 3A10) at MWC17.

The two companies will also cooperate on Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG), a technology necessary for applying quantum cryptography technologies to IoT devices.

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