‘Unhackable’ network created in East Anglia set to take phone and car tech to new heights

Adastral Park in Martlesham is the epicentre of BT's research, technology and IT operations
Picture: MALCOLM...

Adastral Park in Martlesham is the epicentre of BT's research, technology and IT operations Picture: MALCOLM WATSON/VISMEDIA - Credit: Vismedia

BT boffins in Ipswich are working with a hi-tech start-up on an ultra-secure “unhackable” communications network for 5G and connected cars which uses quantum technology.

Last year, the world’s first commercial-grade quantum test network link was launched between Adastral Park, near Ipswich, and Cambridge.

Now communications giant BT has joined forces with hi-tech Cambridge start up Nu-Quantum and others for another world first.

MORE — Huawei’s £400m contribution to East of England economy revealed in new reportIt plans to trial end-to-end quantum-secured communications — which involves the transfer of encrypted data between locations — for 5G and connected cars.

It will harness fixed fibre, laser connections and quantum-enhanced security chips in mobile devices to provide an ultra-secure link between connected 5G towers and mobile devices, as well as to connected cars.

The trial runs for 36 months and is funded by a £7.7m grant from the Quantum Technologies Challenge, led by UK Research and Innovation. It is also working with Warwick Manufacturing Group at Warwick University.

Professor Andrew Lord, BT’s head of optical network research, said the UK had firmly established itself as a global leader in quantum-based network security.

“With the AIRQKD trial, we’re delighted to be taking this to the next level and combining multiple quantum technologies from innovative UK start-ups to build the world’s most secure fixed-mobile communications link” he said.

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“Connected cars are only one of the possible range of applications that will benefit from such ultra-secure connectivity in the future.”

Dr Carmen Palacios Berraquero, co-founder and chief executive of Nu Quantum said they were “basically creating the architecture for a whole new quantum-telecommunication industry”.

“This three-year partnership with BT and others across the UK is an important step taking quantum out of the lab and into our networks,” he said.

Roger McKinlay, Challenge Director for the UK Quantum Technologies Challenge, said: “This is ground-breaking technology but also commercially important, the close collaboration between the parties accelerating the establishment of a UK supply chain.”