MUNICH, Germany A group of international researchers and Siemens Austria has demonstrated in Vienna the transmission of quantum-encrypted messages across commercial telecommunication links. The achievement could bring quantum encryption close to commercial deployment.
The demonstration in Vienna included six network nodes which were connected through eight links with standard interfaces used in the telco business. Seven of them were fiber optic cables across distances between 6 km and 85 km; the eighth was an optical free space link. In their trial, the group used six different quantum cryptography techniques to generate the keys. The techniques are described on the SECOQC project internet page. The demonstration included the generation and transmission of the keys across the network as well as their usage for secure communications.
During the presentation, the participants conducted encrypted VoIP telephone connections using One Time Pads which represents a very secure way of encrypting data, explained the group. In addition, they showed an AES-encrypted video conference.
According to a research team press release, quantum encryption offers ultimate security against eavesdropping since it is inherently impossible to tap the connection. In order to generate the encryption keys, discrete light particles are prepared in a specific way and exchanged between the network nodes. The quantums are measured and processed in a way that all communication partners involved possess identical random encryption keys.
According to the group, quantum-encrypted network technology could be used by telcos to offer innovative services and products.
With the demo, the researcher group launched the kick-off meeting of the 'Industry Specification Group on Quantum Key Distribution and Quantum Technologies' which intends to frame international standards for the technology, enabling its commercial use.