Toshiba to Lead Joint R&D Project Commissioned by Japan’s MIC to Develop Global Quantum Cryptography Communications Network

-Aiming at deploying world’s first wide-range and large-scale quantum cryptography communication networks-

In a joint project that will aim to take Japan’s quantum cryptography communication technology to the world’s highest level, 12 Japanese organizations including Toshiba Corporation (TOKYO: 6502) starts research and development of a Global Quantum Cryptography Communications Network this month. The research is commissioned and supported by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), which invited proposals for a joint research collaboration in fiscal year 2020(Note 1).
The twelve participating organizations are Toshiba Corporation, NEC Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd., Hamamatsu Photonics K.K., Tokyo University, Hokkaido University, Yokohama National University, Gakushuin University, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Technology (AIST), and the National Institute of Materials and Technology (NIMS).

Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a cryptography communications technology that uses the principles of quantum mechanics to deliver absolutely secure communications that cannot be eavesdropped. The company has some 30 years’ of experience in researching quantum technology, dating back to the 1991 establishment of a research laboratory at Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and its achievements include realizing the world’s fastest and furthest key distribution in a real-world environment(Note 2), and transmission of whole Genome Sequence Data in a trial demonstration in Japan(Note 3). As a result, Toshiba is now carrying out field tests with partners around the world, toward realizing practical use.

In the new project, MIC will provide support for the development of technologies needed to advance the deployment of quantum cryptographic communications on the nation-wide global scale. Over five years, to the end of fiscal year 2024, the collaborators will develop and verify essential technologies for practical use over a wide area with a large-scale network. Toward this, the 12 organizations will develop a network that can accommodate over 100 quantum cryptographic devices and 10,000 users, and explore four central technological targets:

1. Quantum Communications Link Technology that realizes high-speed, long-distance, and high-availability(Note 4) links in quantum cryptographic communication networks

2. Trusted Node Technology that ensures the robustness and tamper resistance(Note 5) of cryptographic key management systems, and improves the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of quantum cryptographic communications

3. Quantum Relay Technology that extends distances and secure cryptographic key relays on the ground

4. Wide-area network construction and operation technology, which manages and controls wide-area and large-scale quantum cryptographic communication networks

In its first year, the project will have a planned budget of 1.44 billion yen.

Toshiba is the representative research organization that will compile the overall outcome achieved by all 12 organizations as well as participate in all four technologial targets. In taking on this role, the company will build on its recent work to develop technologies that will increase quantum key distribution rates by about three times; to extend the distance of key distribution with all-optical quantum relay technology; and to realize storage system security technologies that ensure the secure maintenance and management of distributed cryptographic key data. Toshiba is also working to verify the integration of 5G and other wide-area networking equipment with quantum cryptography.

The envisaged research and development project is expected to further strengthen the competitiveness of Japan’s quantum cryptographic communication technology, and to realize quantum cryptographic communications services in a variety of wide-area and large-scale networks.

(Note 1) “Recruitment of Proposals for Research and Development of Information and Communications Technology – Research and Development for the Development of Global Quantum Cryptographic Communications Network”

(Note 2)

(Note 3)

(Note 4) High availability: High resistance to eavesdropping attacks, disasters, etc.

(Note 5) Tamper-proof resistance: The difficulty of analyzing the internal structure of a computer system and the difficulty of being broken.

In particular, this refers to the security of a key management server in which cryptographic keys generated by a quantum cryptographic device are stored and processed electronically.