China’s first commercial quantum communication network, which experts said may provide a secure communication channel for the government in future, has been successfully tested and will go into service by the end of August.
The quantum network has been tested at Party and government offices in Jinan, East China’s Shandong Province, and has passed more than 50 tests since May, China Central Television (CCTV) reported Sunday. The system is capable of encrypting more than 4,000 pieces of data every second.
The report said that the quantum encryption system can provide an unbreakable secret communication channel between nearly 200 terminals.
“The success of the Jinan quantum communication network means that China’s quantum communication network has officially passed the testing phase and is certified for practical use,” Xiang Ligang, a commentator and chief executive of telecom industry website cctime.com, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The system can only encrypt text currently. Ideally, it will eventually be able to encrypt and transmit audio and video files, Xiang said.
“The reason why the first commercial quantum communication network is being used at Party and government offices is because those departments have a greater need to keep information safe. China doesn’t want to follow the US and Russia in being hacked,” Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times.
The application of quantum communication networks in official departments also means China is confident in its technology, and it is expected to cover all government departments some day, Zhu said. “The network is quite mature and reliable,” he added.
Jinan piloted the quantum communications text network in 2012, providing services for up to 50 users, according to Jinan Institute of Quantum Technology.
Quantum communication is ultra-high security as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated. An error code will be generated and users on the network will be alerted when there is a security breach, CCTV reported.
The network would be applied to areas of defense, finance and electricity. Its test is a symbolic achievement for China’s and even for the world’s quantum technology, Zhou Fei, an assistant to the head of the Jinan Institute of Quantum Technology, was quoted by CCTV as saying.
“Intelligent transportation systems, drones and mobile payment platforms are also potential users of quantum encryption, as it prevents data from being leaked or hacked, and if quantum technology is used in data transmission in the future it will build a new security system in various fields,” Xiang said. “The quantum communication market is expected to be worth trillions of yuan,” he told the Global Times.
China successfully launched the world’s first quantum satellite, the Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Northwest China’s Gansu Province, in August 2016.