GSMA, IBM and Vodafone form post-quantum telecom taskforce

30 Sep 2022

Image: © Nadya_C/

The new taskforce aims to implement quantum-safe networking in the telecoms industry and mitigate the risks associated with these powerful computers.

The industry association for mobile network operators has teamed up with IBM and Vodafone to prepare the global telecoms industry for the arrival of quantum computers.

The GSMA has formed the Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce to help define policy, regulation and operator business processes for the enhanced protection of telecommunications. IBM and Vodafone have joined as the initial members.

Quantum computers are expected to surpass modern computers in almost every way, performing calculations that would otherwise be impossible.

However, there is a growing concern among cybersecurity experts that the quantum apocalypse is approaching. This is a term used to describe the predicted fallout of quantum computers being able to solve the current cryptographic algorithms that challenge today’s computers and keep data secure.

The new GSMA taskforce aims to implement quantum-safe networking to mitigate the risks associated with these powerful computers.

It will work to integrate quantum-safe capabilities into telecom network operators, identify methods to standardise the approach and advise on telecom network public policy, regulation and compliance.

The GSMA said that without safe controls in place, sensitive data could be at risk from attackers who hack data now to decrypt at a later stage.

“The GSMA taskforce’s goal is to bring together leading global communication services providers with experts from IBM, Vodafone and other operators and ecosystem partners to understand and implement quantum-safe technology,” GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair said.

“By working together to establish consistent policies, we can define quantum-safe approaches that protect critical infrastructure and customer data, complementing our ongoing security efforts to increase resiliency in future networks.”

To address the potential risks associated with emerging quantum technology, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) chose four cryptography algorithms in July that are expected to be quantum-resistant.

These algorithms were selected to become part of a new cryptographic standard. IBM contributed to the development of three of NIST’s four chosen post-quantum algorithms.

IBM global industries GM Steve Canepa said the new taskforce will create a roadmap to secure networks, devices and systems “across the entire supply chain”.

“In a modern hybrid cloud world, communications services and compute technologies are interconnected and underpin all industries, which means the adoption of quantum-safe cryptography in telecom will affect all enterprises and consumers,” Canepa said.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic