Telefonica, Huawei and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) have completed a field trial of quantum cryptography on a commercial optical network.
Quantum cryptography improves on current security methods with a technique called quantum key distribution (QKD), which enables two parties to create and share a random, secret key known only to each other. Any unauthorised attempt to access these keys is detectable, making the system far more secure.
Telefonica's field trial involved "Continuous Variables" (CV) QKD technology, which is optimised for SDN and NFV environments, where software is used to dynamically create and modify fibre paths.
Until recently, the feasibility of QKD has been demonstrated under laboratory conditions, but now it is beginning to move into the field.
Vicente Martin, Head of the Centre for Computational Simulation, UPD, said: "The ability to use new network technologies like SDN, designed to increase the flexibility of the network, together with new QKD technology is what allows us to really converge quantum and classical networks on the existing optical fibre infrastructure. Now we have, for the first time, the capability to deploy quantum communications in an incremental way, avoiding large upfront costs, and using the same infrastructure."
María Antonia Crespo, Director of Transport and IP Connectivity, Telefonica Spain, said: "Telefonica Spain's optical network, in combination with our high-capacity photonic transmission systems, offer the required performance to provide secure channels based on quantum communication. This enhanced security is a key enabler for next generation networks, flexible, virtualised and software-defined."