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Quantum Communications and Internet

(Huangshan, Anhui Province, China - Hsi-Pin Ma)


[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.

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 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.

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.


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