SK Telecom, IDQ et al form Quantum Alliance

Forming the Quantum Alliance (left to right): SKT's Son In-hyeok; Nokia's Han Joo-ho; SKT's Ha Min-yong; SOS Lab's Jeong Ji-seong; IDQ Korea's Eom Sang-yoon; Wooriro's Oh Min-kyo; KCS's Kim Gang-mook; and Xgate's Joo Gapsu.

Forming the Quantum Alliance (left to right): SKT's Son In-hyeok; Nokia's Han Joo-ho; SKT's Ha Min-yong; SOS Lab's Jeong Ji-seong; IDQ Korea's Eom Sang-yoon; Wooriro's Oh Min-kyo; KCS's Kim Gang-mook; and Xgate's Joo Gapsu.

  • SK Telecom has formed the Quantum Alliance
  • It has teamed up with Nokia and five others to develop a domestic quantum ecosystem
  • As with its other tech efforts, SKT also has its eye on the international market
  • It might need to consider an alternative name for the initiative, though

SK Telecom has teamed up with Nokia and five other partners to form the Quantum Alliance, which aims to develop a quantum technology ecosystem in South Korea initially, and then look abroad for international opportunities.

That’s a model – develop locally, take global – that SK Telecom has already adopted with its metaverse and AI developments – see MWC24: SKT’s Suk Geun Chung on global AI ambitions and News brief: SKT further expands its metaverse reach.

The companies involved are those with “key technologies and components in the quantum field”, namely SOS Lab, Xgate, Wooriro, KCS, and IDQ Korea (the local branch of quantum cybersecurity company ID Quantique), in addition to SKT and Nokia. 

SOS Lab is a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) specialist while Xgate is a developer of quantum-secure virtual private network (VPN) server technology that has already worked with SK Telecom on a trial of a quantum-safe VPN connection. Wooriro is a leading developer of single photon detection devices (SPADs) that can be used in quantum key distribution (QKD) applications, while KCS develops hardware-based cryptographic modules. 

IDQ is a world-leading developer of quantum-secure technology: Founded in 2011, it has more than a decade of experience in QKD distribution systems, quantum-safe network encryption, single photon counters and quantum random number generators. It has long been a partner to Nokia and is involved in many telecom sector QKD and quantum-safe communications developments around the world, having partnered with the likes of Singtel in Singapore, Proximus in Belgium, Deutsche Telekom in Germany, and many more.  

The alliance members plan to develop joint business and marketing opportunities (with public and national projects a priority), create a consultative body and seek investment opportunities. They also plan to develop “differentiated products” and add additional companies to the group as investments by private companies and governments around the world start to grow: According to the Korea Intelligence and Information Society Agency, the global quantum sector is set to grow in value from $19.6bn last year to $117.9bn by 2030. 

“The establishment of this Quantum Alliance will lay the foundation for strengthening the competitiveness of the domestic quantum industry,” stated Ha Min-yong, SKT’s global solutions office manager. “We will continue to cooperate with leading domestic and foreign quantum companies to build on the alliance’s success stories… create a new business and, based on this, we will push for entry into the global market.”

The formation of the alliance is just SK Telecom’s latest effort to develop a leading position in the quantum technology and quantum-secure networking sector. In September last year, SK Telecom used an ITU security group meeting that was being hosted in South Korea to push for the development of global quantum-safe communications standards based on a combination of QKD and post-quantum cryptography (PQC) technologies; and in mid-2022, the company, which now positions itself as an AI company rather than a telco, received approval for its technologies to be adopted as international standards for quantum cryptography communication networks – see SK Telecom leaps closer to the quantum technology era.

The new collective won’t be called the Quantum Alliance for long – a new brand will be decided upon in the coming months. The name Quantum Alliance has been used previously by SK Telecom for a collaboration with Deutsche Telekom that was announced in 2017, while the the Quantum Alliance Initiative was initiated in 2018 to “develop and champion policies that allow the US and its allies to win the race to a universal quantum computer, while simultaneously working to ensure that both will be safe from a future quantum computer cyberattack within five years.”   

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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