China Introduces a Commercial Quantum Network

The past few years have taught us that no communication method is safe. There are always individuals looking to snoop on others’ communications in one way or another. The Chinese government has come up with a new commercial quantum communications network, designed to be “hack-proof”. These are pretty interesting words considering China and hack-proof do not mix well.

Quantum Technology for Hack-proof Communications?

China is always up to something interesting, even though it may not necessarily be accessible to the everyday person. Chinese companies have been working on a new way of creating hack-proof communications. To do so, they have come up with a new quantum network in the province of Shandong. As most people are well aware, quantum technology is the next frontier when it comes to ushering in new types of communication, among other things.

China claims it is at the forefront of developing quantum technology. Just a month ago, the country created the first “unbreakable” quantum code which was broadcast from an experimental satellite down to earth. Although that development is rather significant in its own right, it is not necessarily an end-all solution to create hack-proof communications on a large scale. With the first “commercial” quantum private communication launching, things have shifted into higher gear.

This quantum network can only be used by government and official users in Shandong. It is not a project that will be opened up to the general public anytime soon, by the looks of things. There are also questions regarding the commercial side of things, as the Chinese government has not alluded to how this quantum network will be used in a commercial capacity.

We do know how the government has successfully set up hundreds of interconnected pieces of equipment covering a distance of several hundred kilometers. All of these devices are connected through fiber optics, which took around five months to set up. The goal is to provide secure telephone and data communication services in the province itself. In a future iteration, it may be connected to the Beijing-Shanghai quantum network, although that has not been officially confirmed at this stage.

What makes this particular network so appealing is how it sends messages embedded in light. That in itself makes it much more difficult for others to snoop on communications. Additionally, any attempt to eavesdrop on the system would supposedly create some degree of disturbance, which would immediately notify authorities that something has gone wrong. It is a pretty interesting concept, to say the least, even though its commercial viability remains to be determined.

The bigger question is how the general public will respond to these ventures. China is not known for openly supporting hack-proof communication protocols used by consumers. Instead, it wants to keep close tabs on what information is exchanged and how much freedom of speech people can enjoy. That would explain why this new quantum network only works for government officials right now rather than the rest of the country. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the coming months.