SK Telecom and ID Quantique lead international standardization of quantum-safe technology

  • Their joint technical report has received final approval from ITU-T, the telecommunications standardization sector of the International Telecommunication Union
  • The two companies are working closely to promote international standardization of quantum-safe technologies including QKD and QRNG, while expanding the quantum technology ecosystem and market

SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) and ID Quantique today announced that their technical report titled ‘Security Considerations for Quantum Key Distribution Network (TR.sec-qkd)’ has received final ITU-T approval at ITU-T Study Group 17 (SG17) e-meeting held from March 17 to 26, 2020.

This marks the first-ever quantum key distribution (QKD)* - related standardization work completed by SG 17, which coordinates security-work across all ITU-T Study Groups.

*Quantum Key Distribution technologies generate and distribute symmetrical cryptographic keys with information theoretic security based on quantum information theory between a sender and a receiver. If any adversary tries to intercept a single photon during quantum key distribution process, this observation causes errors in the sequence of bits exchanged by the sender and the receiver and these errors reveal an eavesdropping.

The technical report provides security matters to be considered when applying QKD to telecommunications networks, including the required security level for network nodes that manages the distribution of quantum keys, and security requirements for transmission of quantum keys between distantly located network nodes.

SK Telecom and ID Quantique have been leading global standardization efforts for quantum technologies, including QKD and quantum random number generator (QRNG).

On November 13, 2019, the two companies announced that their work at ITU-T SG 17 titled ‘Quantum Noise Random Number Generator Architecture’ received final approval as an ITU-T Recommendation (X.1702), marking the first international QRNG standard.

Meanwhile, SK Telecom has been cooperating with companies including Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Ericsson on GSMA’s new work item ‘Quantum Computing, Networking and Security’ since March 3, 2020. The companies are currently investigating future perspectives on quantum technologies catered to mobile operators, and plan to publish a white paper this year.

“This important standardization milestone comes as a result of long-term joint efforts between SK Telecom and ID Quantique in developing cutting-edge quantum cryptography communication technologies for safe and secure 5G services,” said Kim Yoon, Chief Technology Officer of SK Telecom. "Going forward, SK Telecom will further strengthen its leadership in quantum technologies by expanding its global partnership ecosystem and spearheading standardization efforts."

"This great achievement is a strong signal given to the whole ICT industry." says Grégoire Ribordy, co-founder and CEO of ID Quantique. "We are sure that this will foster and accelerate the adoption of quantum technologies."

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