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Optical and Quantum Communications, and The Quantum Internet

(The World Fiber Communication Network - The Fiber Optic Association)


Transforming the Way the World Connects



- The Fiber Optics Revolution

The National Science Foundation (NSF) created the first high-speed backbone in 1987. Called NSFNET, it was a T1 line that connected 170 smaller networks together and operated at 1.544 Mbps (million bits per second). IBM, MCI and Merit worked with NSF to create the backbone and developed a T3 (45 Mbps) backbone the following year. 

The Internet and wireless communication’s rapid penetration in modern society has led to explosive growth in demand for broadband transmission capacity. As people and businesses have become connected, more and more of their everyday life and work has gone online -- from communicating via e-mail, online shopping and watching streaming video to Cloud-based computing and business analysis based on ‘Big Data’. In less than two decades, the lives of billions of people have increasingly come to depend on fast broadband ‘connectivity’.  

To meet this demand, telecommunications providers have been switching to data transmission via fiber-optic cables, first at the core of their networks, and then gradually expanding fiber-optics ever wider. This steady development has been in progress for about a quarter of a century. Consequently, fiber-optics assets are now the indispensable backbone of today’s hybrid communication network of fixed-line and mobile infrastructure and data centers.  


- Fiber-optics: The Key Conductor in the Telecommunications Infrastructure

Nothing has changed the world of communications as much as the development and implementation of optical fiber. Today, Fiber has become the communications medium of choice for telephones, cell phones, CATV, LAN backbones, security cameras, industrial networks, just about everything. Hundreds of submarine cables connect the world for data, voice and video. The volume of user traffic on carrier networks is growing at between 20% and 40% per year and if this trend continues as expected then optical transport networks will become overstretched without a significant increase in capacity beyond that currently planned by carrier network operators. The solution to this problem is likely to include a mix of new technologies, expanded bandwidths, network autonomy and many more fiber links, up to 10x in the next ten years. 

Fiber optics technology has come a long way, but this age of innovation is only the beginning. From technological breakthroughs to vast new networks, a range of exciting projects promise to bring the world into a new and even more revolutionary age of fiber optics.


- Fiber Optic Technology

Everywhere on this planet hair-thin optical fibers carry vast quantities of information from place to place. There are many desirable properties of optical fibers for carrying this information. They have enormous information-carrying capacity, are low cost, and possess immunity from the many disturbances that can afflict electrical wires and wireless communication links. The superiority of optical fibers for carrying information from place to place is leading to their rapidly replacing older technologies. Optical fibers have played a key role in making possible the extraordinary growth in world-wide communications, and are vital in enabling the proliferating use of the Internet.

Today’s global businesses demand faster, more secure and larger capacity communication systems for their network operations. Fiber optic technology is expected to play a major part in this growth. A Research and Markets study determined that the compound annual growth rate for the fiber optic market could reach 8.5 percent by 2025, meaning more industries will be looking to the solutions presented by this technology. From healthcare systems to the marine environment, fiber optic cable is proving to be a crucial component of industrial infrastructure. 

Fiber optic cable assemblies are also playing an increasingly vital role in residential applications. Homeowners now expect high-speed Internet access as part of their daily lives, and telecom and data industry leaders are turning to fiber optic technology as a clean, reliable way to provide expected services.   

[Grindelwald, Switzerland - Civil Engineering Discoveries]

- Quantum Secure Communications

Quantum secure communication are methods which are expected to be 'quantum safe' in the advent of a quantum computing systems that could break current cryptography systems. One significant component of a quantum secure communication systems is expected to be Quantum key distribution, or 'QKD': a method of transmitting information using entangled light in a way that makes any interception of the transmission obvious to the user. Another technology in this field is the quantum random number generator used to protect data. This produces truly random number without following the procedure of the computing algorithms that merely imitate randomness.

Quantum computers are the ultimate quantum network, and are devices that can store and process quantum data (as opposed to binary data) with links that can transfer quantum information between 'quantum bits' or 'qubits'. If successfully developed, quantum computers are predicted to be able to perform certain algorithms significantly faster than even the largest classical computer available today. 

Quantum computers are expected to have a number of important uses in computing fields such as optimization and machine learning. They are perhaps best known for their expected ability to carry out 'Shor's Algorithm', which can be used to factorise large numbers, an important process in the securing of data transmissions.


- Quantum Communication Networks

[World Economic Forum]: The word “quantum” sounds so advanced and complex that people tend to get hyped up about anything attached to it. While not every quantum breakthrough elicits a positive response, in the case of a so-called quantum Internet, people have a reason to be excited. 

Researchers have recently made significant progress in building this quantum communication network. China launched the world’s first quantum communication satellite in 2016, and they’ve since been busy testing and extending the limitations of sending entangled photons from space to ground stations on Earth and then back again. They’ve also managed to store information using quantum memory. By the end of August, 2017, the nation plans to have a working quantum communication network to boost the Beijing-Shanghai internet. Leading these efforts is Jian-Wei Pan of the University of Science and Technology of China, and he expects that a global quantum network could exist by 2030. That means a quantum internet is just 13 years away, if all goes well."

China has developed the world’s first mobile quantum satellite station (January, 2020). The world’s first portable ground station for sending and receiving secure quantum communications is up and running. The mobile, portable satellite station leverages the intrinsic properties of photons for establishing a secure channel for transmitting and receiving quantum communications. And the station has been successfully connected to Mozi, which was the world's first quantum communications satellite developed back in 2016.


- Quantum Internet

As China moves closer to building a working quantum communications network, the possibility of a quantum Internet becomes more and more real. In the simplest of terms, a quantum Internet would be one that uses quantum signals instead of radio waves to send information. The future quantum Internet would utilize qubits of quantum information, which can take on an infinite number of values.

The Internet as we know it uses radio frequencies to connect various computers through a global web in which electronic signals are sent back and forth. In a quantum internet, signals would be sent through a quantum network using entangled quantum particles. A quantum Internet will be the platform of a quantum ecosystem, where computers, networks, and sensors exchange information in a fundamentally new manner where sensing, communication, and computing literally work together as one entity,



 <More to come ..>


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