Sci-Tech

China Telecom launches calls protected by quantum encryption

China Telecom, one of the three largest telecommunications operators in China, is now offering some of its customers the opportunity to benefit from calls protected by quantum encryption, reports SCMP. A breakthrough that will allow China to gain a foothold in the race for this future technology against the United States, its main competitor.

China Telecom starts pilot program

In the province of Anhui, China Telecom started a pilot program for the first time, with which some of its customers can benefit from quantum encryption protection for their calls. In fact, the operator made it clear that this service is initially only available to users who have an “absolute need for security”, such as B. Government, military or financial institutions.

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To be able to use this, you have to exchange your conventional SIM card for another one that has been specially developed for this functionality. At the same time, they have to use the “Quantum Secure Call” application developed by the Chinese operator, which is currently only available for Android.

When these two devices are used together, two secret keys are generated from the calls sent, which are used to verify their data and the identity of the caller to ensure end-to-end encryption. Note that China Telecom has not yet announced the price for this new service.

The company nevertheless proposes its goals: within five years it wants to call more than 10 million customers with quantum encryption. The operator also said it is currently developing phones with built-in quantum encryption capabilities.

Quantum encryption at the center of the technological race between the US and China

This initiative is testament to China’s unwavering commitment to quantum computing. Like Artificial Intelligence and 5G, this technology is at the heart of the race (not to mention “war”) that is currently going on between the United States and the Middle Kingdom. It must be said that his stakes are high …

Unlike classical encryption methods, which are only based on algorithms that can be decrypted by a computer, quantum encryption is much more difficult to break because it exists thanks to the laws of quantum physics and information theory. Therefore, any attempt to intercept data will result in a physical change in the messages. In addition, the sender and recipient are made aware of possible eavesdropping.

At the moment, China appears to be the most advanced country in computing and quantum encryption. In June 2020, a team of Chinese researchers successfully transmitted quantum encryption keys simultaneously to two stations that are more than 1,120 kilometers apart. An achievement when we know that transmission distance has so far posed major problems. Later in December of the same year, other Chinese researchers at the University of Science and Technology presented a quantum device 10 billion times faster than Google’s.

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