Officials in the Chinese city of Jinan have completed a successful trial of an “unhackable” communications network that could lead to the world’s first major commercial application of quantum communications.
Jinan, Shandong, China / VCG Photo
Local leaders in the capital of the eastern province of Shandong announced on Monday that all city departments would begin using the network by the end of August.
“We plan to use the network for national defense, finance and other fields, and hope to spread it out as a pilot that if successful, can be used across China and the whole world,” Zhou Fei, assistant director of the Jinan Institute of Quantum Technology, the research institute involved in the project, told the Financial Times.
This comes as a significant boost for the Beijing-Shanghai quantum network, which is under construction. It uses Jinan, which lies between the two cities, as an inter-city hub to route messages.
The Beijing-Shanghai network is set to host the world’s largest land-based quantum communication channels, stretching over 2,000km. It will be used by banks in the two financial hubs and by the government.
Quantum key distribution (QKD) networks are more secure than widely used electronic communication forms. A classic channel, such as a telephone or internet cable, can be tapped by an eavesdropper without the sender or recipient being aware. But if a quantum channel is tapped, it alters the information being relayed, and the disturbance alerts the parties using it that something is wrong.