Toshiba, KT pilot quantum key distribution in South Korea

Toshiba and subsidiary Toshiba Digital Solutions are working with KT on two pilot projects in South Korea that use Quantum Key Distribution (QKD).

Toshiba Group has been researching on QKD technologies for over two decades, and has demonstrated QKD technologies and use cases with partners in Japan, the United States and Europe. 

KT, the holder of the most QKD-network-related international standard approvals, has promoted the development of South Korea’s QKD ecosystem by transferring technologies to small and medium businesses in the country. 

Also, KT has led the creation of next-generation quantum secure communications services for emerging applications such as drone communications, autonomous vehicles and data centres.

The first project is to evaluate quality of service (QoS) on a long-distance hybrid QKD network built with different QKD systems, over an optical fibre network 490-kilometers long, between Seoul and Busan. 

The three partners said this network is the longest QKD network yet built and demonstrated in South Korea, and is expected to demonstrate capabilities that will support deployment of QKD services throughout the country. 

The network is configured with a combination of QKD systems from Coweaver, WooriNet and Alian developed with technologies transferred from KT, and TDSL’s long distance QKD systems with quantum key management system (KMS).

The second project covers the testbed for an open QKD service (QKD-as-a-Service or QKDaaS) that aims to expand the quantum industry ecosystem in South Korea and abroad. 

This testbed will be operational between Seoul and Daejeon for approximately two years from the summer of 2022, and used by various companies to support the development of next-generation services using quantum technologies. 

The testbed will be operated as an open platform, and Toshiba and KT will use knowledge gained from operation and user feedback to improve QKDaaS.

Shunsuke Okada, corporate SVP and chief digital officer of Toshiba, said the partnership with KT in South Korea will accelerate the global expansion of Toshiba’s QKD business.

Kim Ye-Han, EVP and director of KT’s Fusion Technology Institute, said the company will continue to invest in R&D not limited to QKD but also to core technologies for realising the Quantum Internet.