China creates “impenetrable” network using quantum communications

In a breakthrough for quantum technology, China has successfully trialled a quantum communications network that is “impenetrable to hackers”, according to state media

  • By Kim Darrah | Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Radio telescopes located near Beijing. China's successful trial of a quantum communications network comes after it became the first country to send a satellite message to Earth using quantum communications

Chinese state media has reported that a trial of a quantum communications network in the city of Jinan has been successful, paving the way for the commercial rollout of a new “impenetrable” communications technology. The trial marks a key milestone for the viability of quantum communication, which so far has only seen small-scale applications.

The trial involved transmitting data using quantum encryption keys between nearly 200 terminals around the city. Its designers have deemed the network to be in a “very ideal” condition.

The Beijing-Shanghai link, when completed, will be the world’s longest land-based quantum communications channel

The network connects the Chinese Communist Party with government bodies in Jinan, but is part of a much larger quantum link that is still under construction between Beijing and Shanghai.

The Beijing-Shanghai link, when completed, will be the world’s longest land-based quantum communications channel. According to the People’s Daily, the tech is expected to be put to use by government bodies in Jinan by the end of next month, but could later be rolled out much more widely in finance, energy and other sectors.

The key benefit of quantum networks over traditional communication techniques is that they are able to provide whole new level of security. Quantum communications enable messages to be kept secret through the use of an encryption key, which is coded into the properties of entangled particles. The network is said to be impenetrable because, by its very nature, any interference in quantum communications would automatically corrupt the signal. As a result, unlike other communications networks, if a snooping third party were to tap in to the line, it would immediately become apparent.

The Jinan network marks the latest of several big Chinese research achievements in the field of quantum communications. Recently, Chinese researchers succeeded in sending the first satellite message to Earth via quantum communications.

Work has also begun on similar communications networks in other Chinese big cities, including Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province.