Numana, the catalyst for Quebec’s growing technology ecosystem, today announces the launch of a multi-purpose testbed for quantum-safe communications in Quebec. The project has two objectives. The first being to provide the necessary infrastructure to test emerging quantum-communications technologies. Secondly, this testbed could become one of the cornerstones of a future nationwide quantum communication network, as outlined in Canada's National Quantum Strategy.
Those developing quantum-safe communications, the kind which cannot be hacked by a quantum computer and which require more robust communications networks, can now begin testing their products on the first node of the testbed which is now live in the city of Sherbrooke. Additional nodes in Montreal and Quebec City will be brought online early in the new year. Each city will offer systems with different features, and new technologies will be added as they become available, keeping the testbed up to date.
“Unlike projects built by private companies for their own exclusive use, this project will allow us welcome innovators from all over the world who are looking for a place to test their quantumsafe technologies. This is but one of the ways we are working to develop the quantum industry in Quebec,” said Francois Borrelli, CEO of Numana. “This is a remarkable achievement for this market, and we want to thank the Government of Quebec as well as the Government of Canada for together providing over $10 million in funding for this project, and for mandating Numana to manage the deployment and operation of these systems.”
The testbed is available to startups, researchers, small business, large corporations, and other actors, both domestic and foreign. It allows these stakeholders to experiment with the use of the quantum-safe communications by testing new technologies without disrupting the existing infrastructure. It is believed that this work, and the partnerships which will be developed through use of this testbed, will have a significant economic impact for Quebec and Canada and potentially attract a cluster of startups in the industry to the area.
Canadian telecom companies Bell Canada and Telus are providing access to their fiber optic networks. These network operators can also develop, design, and test their own quantum capabilities while collaborating with researchers and startups. When used in conjunction with quantum communications technologies such as QKD systems, this infrastructure has the potential to unlock new applications in a range of industries including health care, finance, transportation, and defence, among others.
Borrelli added "The market for quantum communications could represent $10 billion by 2030. It is therefore our ambition for this project is to accelerate the development of these technologies in Quebec and Canada to help cultivate this nascent industry. This project aligns well with Numana's mandate as a catalyst for the development of new and disruptive technologies and facilitating adoption."
Governments, corporations and individuals worldwide are regularly victimized by “harvest now, decrypt later” cyberattacks. These involve stealing sensitive information now, and storing it until the tools become available to decrypt the files, at which point the information they contain may be exploited. Quantum-safe communications may deter such attacks by making it impossible to decrypt stolen data at a later date.