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15 October 2015

BT posts new quantum cryptography world record

quantum cryptography

The prospect of data secured by quantum cryptography took a great leap forward at BT’s Adastral Park tech hub last week when BT, the Cambridge Research Laboratory of Toshiba Research Europe Ltd and ADVA Optical Networking smashed the record for securing high bandwidth data transmissions.

A trial showed quantum cryptography in use on a system with a bandwidth of 200Gbs. What’s more, it was achieved on a single fibre up to 100km in length.

Securing the future

The trial marks a huge breakthrough in the future of data security, as quantum cryptography can be used to send the secret digital keys that are important for protecting personal information. It makes things like medical records or bank statements safer than ever before.

Quantum security works by encoding each bit of data on a single particle of light. It’s easy to spot if someone attempts to intercept it. If that happens the entire transmission can be stopped and a new encryption key sent.

But the technology hasn’t always been straightforward. Previous attempts on conventional fibre networks were stifled by the fact that the single quantum particles can be easily overwhelmed by other light. This means most demonstrations have used dedicated fibres to carry the delicate signals.

The new system at Adastral Park filters the light to extract the quantum signals from the background light, making higher bandwith transmissions possible and removing the need for a dedicated ‘dark’ fibre.

A ‘remarkable world first’

Dr Tim Whitley, MD of Research & Innovation at BT said: “This is a remarkable world first, showing not only that the ultimate security of our fibres is just around the corner, but that this can be achieved at very high bit rates and over the sort of distances that will generate great interest from financial institutions, data centres and other customers.”

“It’s fitting that we’re unveiling this breakthrough at our Adastral Park labs – the heart of telecoms innovation in the UK."