Nokia trials quantum-safe network with Greek researchers

18 Dec 2023

Image: © OlekAdobe/

The company said its security management server can swap between quantum keys and classical keys to keep networks secure from quantum computers.

Nokia claims it has managed to create a proof of concept (PoC) of a quantum-safe network to protect critical infrastructure from this technology in the future.

The company worked with a Greek research consortium called HellasQCI to create the proof of concept, which involves using a mix of classical and quantum physics to generate keys for encryption that are protected against quantum threats.

Quantum computers are expected to transform various aspects of society in the future, as they will be capable of processing vast amounts of data at a much greater speed than modern supercomputers – though the journey to develop these machines is not straightforward.

Quantum computing presents a risk to society due to its potential to break modern cryptography – which is used to encrypt data and communications. Nokia said this presents a risk to infrastructure and that there is a need to get networks ready for potential quantum attacks in the future.

To address this potential threat, Nokia said it has developed a security management server that manages key requests to ensure encryption remains quantum safe. This system can also revert back to “classic physics-based keys” if there are any issues in the quantum key distribution (QKD) layer.

The PoC implemented this quantum-safe network across three locations in Greece, including a data centre owned by GRNET, a public sector company that provides network, cloud computing and IT services to various organisations.

Dr Ognjen Prnjat, the GRNET director for European Infrastructure and Projects Directorate, said the completion of the proof of concept is a “key milestone” for the HellasQCI consortium.

“We are honoured to have been given the responsibility by the Ministry of Digital Governance to lead the implementation of this innovative quantum network infrastructure as part of the pan-European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) initiative,” Prnjat said. “The PoC demonstrated the feasibility and the benefits of quantum-safe networks for securing critical communications in Greece and in Europe and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with Nokia and other partners.”

James Watt, the head of Nokia’s Optical Networks Division, said the company is proud to demonstrate its quantum-safe network concept in the “challenging and innovative PoC”.

“Test environments like this are crucial to ensure networks are ready for quantum-level cybersecurity attacks, which are inevitable as quantum computing becomes more accessible around the world,” Watt said.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic