Quantum-secure data transfer trial successful in Singapore

Quantum-secure data transfer trial successful in Singapore
Image credit: SPTel

Can be used over existing SPTel fibre network connecting data centres.

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Singapore-based digital service provider, SPTel, and quantum-encryption solution provider, SpeQtral, have successfully conducted an initial trial for a quantum-secure digital network on SPTel’s existing fibre network.

SPTel is a joint venture between ST Engineering and Singapore Power Group while SpeQtral is a spin-off from the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore.

SpeQtral conducted the trial on SPTel’s fibre network, using ST Engineering’s quantum-enabled encryptors and Toshiba Digital Solutions’ Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) system.

The two companies were able to successfully run a test of DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing) data and QKD channels over a single pair of SPTel fibre across a 55 km distance.

QKD communication uses a cryptographic protocol involving components of quantum mechanics and enables two parties to produce a shared random secret key known only to them, which can then be used to encrypt and decrypt messages.

It works by transmitting millions of polarized light particles (photons) and each has a random quantum state, and collectively all the photons create a bit stream of ones and zeros.

The encrypted message can only be decrypted as a regular data stream by using the random and unique optical key that is known only by the sender and receiver. 

SPTel’s CEO, Titus Yong, said that the quantum-secured network services safeguard customers’ data and SPTel network hubs across Singapore could act as “intermediate nodes” to create a high-capacity QKD-secured DWDM network to “extend” the effective transmission distance.

The tests also pave the way for the integration of QKD to SPTel’s high-capacity Data Centre Interconnect (DCI) services available across all major commercial data centres, to provide customers with quantum-safe data transmission for highly secure applications, Young said.

To date, SPTel has connected 90 percent of Singapore’s commercial data centres.

By saving on the need to have a separate fibre for QKD signals, SPTel delivers a more cost-effective QKD-enabled network for customers, he added.

This opens “opportunities” for enterprises or government agencies to “enable quantum-secure encrypted data transmission” across SPTel’s fibre network to communicate highly confidential information with the certainty of digital security, Yong said.

Young said the successful trial validated the operations of Toshiba’s QKD technology on a single pair of SPTel fibre, and its interfacing with the key retrieval process of ST Engineering’s quantum-enabled encryptors.

SpeQtral’s co-founder and CEO, Chune Yang Lum, said that a successful QKD trial in partnership with SPTel forms the “foundation to deploy” quantum-secure networks for enterprises and government agencies in Singapore.

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