Madrid’s quantum communication network continues to grow

The new quantum communication network in Madrid, called MadQCI (Madrid Quantum Communication Infrastructure), is an infrastructure that integrates quantum communications in conventional optical networks.

It is one of the most important test benches of these characteristics in all of Europe, coordinated by the Center for Computational Simulation (CSC) of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) In collaboration with Telephone and the Institute IMDEA Software (REDIMadrid).

This network is part of the European OPENQKD project and the first phase of its deployment is already operational. There are currently 16 quantum communications devices, of which 10 have already been deployed and another six are in laboratory testing. To these, another six will be added before the summer, thus completing this first stage.

This Madrid quantum network is one of the most important test benches of these characteristics in all of Europe and in it security technologies called quantum-safe are being developed, safe even against attacks from quantum computers

Within this Madrid network, security technologies called quantum-safe are being developed, which are safe even against attacks by quantum computers. Quantum algorithms will be investigated that will increase the security of critical applications in fields such as telecommunications, healthcare, electricity supply and utilities, among others.

The infrastructure will also be used to industrialize the technologies developed in projects such as CiViQ, part of the European Quantum Flagship program. This 10-year program is the European commitment to leading the new generation of quantum technologies.

QKD quantum technology

“These technologies are beginning to be mature enough for some of them to make the leap to the market, the so-called ‘quantum key distribution’ being one of the most advanced,” he says. Vicente Martin Ayuso, researcher in charge of the Research Group on Quantum Information and Computing (GIIC) and director of the CSC.

The expert refers to the quantum technology QKD, for its acronym in English Quantum Key Distribution, a form of encryption that allows the transmission of data with a very high level of security based on the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics and that solves the problem of vulnerability to any type of computer, including quantum ones, of security in communications using conventional encryption systems.

Quantum technologies are beginning to be mature enough for some of them to make the leap to the market, the so-called ‘quantum key distribution’ being one of the most advanced

Vicente Martín (GIIC-UPM)

The integration of QKD in commercial optical network environments is complex, as it implies that the same infrastructure must transmit and differentiate between signals carried by a single photon – the quantum channel – and those typical in commercial transmissions, which use billions of photons per pulse. . Any of these photons that pass into the quantum channel invalidates it. Making quantum and classical channels compatible requires the use of technologies at all levels, from physical filters to the use of new network and quantum communication protocols.

This is not the first quantum network that the UPM has made in Madrid. The first prototypes were made in test facilities more than 10 years ago in collaboration with Telefónica. In 2018, the leap was made in a pioneering experience worldwide, demonstrating the application of quantum cryptography in commercial optical networks and its integration with the network operation.

“The ability to use technologies like SDN (Software Defined Networks), designed to increase network flexibility, along with new QKD technologies is what allows us to converge classical and quantum networks on existing fiber optic infrastructure. We have, for the first time, the ability to deploy quantum communications in an incremental way, without large initial investment costs and using the same infrastructure, ”says Martín.

The GIIC group of the UPM leads QKD activities in optical networks both within the European OPENQKD initiative and the CiViQ project, which are the first in the Quantum Flagship and European Quantum Communications Infrastructure programs.

These are the initiatives on which Europe bases its leadership in science and technology in the quantum technologies sector and with which it wants to foster strong cooperation between research, industry and the public sector to create an innovative ecosystem that opens up a new perspective for a secure digital Europe, and thus build the foundations for the next generation of communication technologies.

Rights: Creative Commons.

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