Quantum Xchange and Toshiba: Working Together to Make QKD a Commercial Reality

By John Prisco

Quantum Key Distribution is critical to securely transmitting high-value data now and into the future. Quantum Xchange’s launch of Phio, the first quantum communications network in the U.S.,  was a crucial step in the development of this technology. Now, through our work testing Toshiba’s new QKD system we made another important step towards making Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) a more viable, mainstream option for businesses and entities that need to secure their vital data.

Toshiba has developed a prototype QKD system that transmits secure optical keys for cryptographic operations on fiber optic networks. When they tested their system on our operational network on the East coast, the test reaffirmed the viability of the connection between the financial markets on Wall Street with offices in New Jersey.

More significantly, though, the equipment doubled the capacity of the quantum network.

With the multiplexing capability built into Toshiba’s system, the control channel and the quantum channel can be transmitted over one fiber without reducing transmission distances of the keys. Previous QKD transmissions across the Hudson River required two fibers. Ultimately what this means is greater efficiency of transmission because:

  • Twice the amount of key material is available.
  • The availability of transmissions is increased.
  • The number of fibers customers need to access the Phio network is greatly reduced.
  • Transmission distances are not reduced.

As I reflect on how far we’ve come in the last year, I’m reminded of how important it is to be able to collaborate with companies like Toshiba on the development of QKD technology. Quantum Xchange started with QKD, added our proprietary Trusted Nodes, and connected the endpoints with fiber optic cable to create the first quantum network in the U.S., Phio. The network will be used initially to securely transmit high-value data for customers as wide-ranging as the government, financial institutions, and tech firms.

At this point, the first part of network extends along the East coast of the U.S., but we intend to make it nationwide by year’s end, reaching all the way to the West coast.

QKD is so important to the current and future security of our communications. Quantum resistant algorithms are years away.  Harvesting attacks today collect data and classical keys to be broken at a later date.  With the looming threat of quantum computers and their ability to render our current forms of encryption obsolete, we need to develop solutions now – solutions that are user-friendly, low cost and easy to deploy. Fortunately, Quantum Xchange is at the leading edge of developing those solutions.

We’re achieving exciting progress every day toward making QKD a commercial reality for the entirety of the United States. Forging partnerships with Toshiba and other industry leaders is integral to that progress. We’re excited to build on what we’ve already started.