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Quantum and Infrastructure Virtualization Technologies Could Help Secure Emerging 5G Networks

A breakthrough solution has been demonstrated by a recent study on how to secure upcoming crucial communications infrastructures, which also include the evolving 5G networks.

(Image credit: University of Bristol)

The study tackles extensively reported concerns with regards to the security weakness of 5G networks, which are anticipated to revolutionize the telecommunications sector in the next decade. The High Performance Networks (HPN) Research Group at the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab performed the study, subsequent to a competitive selection process of peer review. The results of the study have been reported in a highly prominent post-deadline paper in the Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), San Diego, USA, on March 7th, 2019.

Through the new, proposed solution, 5G network operators will be able to provide secure 5G services eventually while ensuring high-bandwidth communications and ultra-low-latency. This is thanks to the innovative combination of infrastructure and quantum virtualization technologies.

New developments in commodity computing and software engineering technologies have redefined the telecommunications sector in the last decade. Dedicated and proprietary hardware had traditionally performed the whole classes of network communication services, which are virtualized and hosted in commodity computing servers today. This is often known as “Network Softwareization.”

However, the integration of crucial network communication functions into software architecture, spread across the internet, poses a considerable security risk to telecommunications networks, and particularly to 5G networks that depend fully on that software architecture. The entire internet and its users would be at risk if any malicious attempt is made to fiddle with these virtualized network functions.

The latest study deals with this issue with an advanced and fully programmable network virtualization platform that exploits quantum technologies for protecting service orchestration and function virtualization.

The recommended quantum-secured 5G virtualization platform has the ability to operate across various networks of 5G operators (that is O2, EE, Vodafone, and so on.) The platform utilizes sophisticated and standard compliant virtualization technology for producing on-demand collaborative and complex 5G network services across domains of operators, while using optical interconnection infrastructure and quantum cryptography to secure services as well as ensure 5G key performance indicators (3GPP KPIs).

Hardware and software technologies reported in this paper can potentially revolutionise 5G networks. They empower network operators to leverage the flexibility and programmability offered by virtualization technology in order to create new types of internet services while taking advantages of transmission at the speed of light and also securing the system using quantum technology.

Reza Nejabati, Professor and Head, HPN Research Group, University of Bristol.

5G networks will transform communications, industry and society in the next decade. However, security is a key concern for 5G deployment and is expressed widely in global media. The University of Bristol has pioneered research on 5G and quantum for a number of years and more recently led a number of landmark demonstrations of 5G benefits. With this new work, we bring together our research strengths to provide an ultimate security solution for 5G networks.

Dimitra Simeonidou, Professor and Director, Smart Internet Lab, University of Bristol.

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