Singapore’s Quantum Engineering Program (QEP), hosted by the National University of Singapore (NUS), has launched the National Quantum-Safe Network (NQSN) and will start conducting trials for government agencies and private companies keen on adopting the technology.
The network will provide two key technologies, namely quantum key distribution and post-quantum cryptography. The former is a hardware approach to quantum-safe communication requiring the installation of devices to create and receive quantum signals, while the latter upgrades software to run new cryptographic algorithms perceived to be resistant to attacks by quantum computers.
The initiative will cost about S$8.5million over three years and involve over 15 private and government collaborators, including Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Thales. The launch follows a memorandum of understanding signed by AWS and NUS to develop new quantum communication and computing technology capabilities.
The collaboration between QEP and AWS is expected to accelerate the development of innovations and solutions in the field. The QEP is a national initiative launched in 2018 by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF). Quantum technologies were identified as a key technology area under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 Plan, which NRF manages.
With the new initiative in place, the NQSN and their collaborators will deploy commercial technologies for trials, conduct in-depth evaluation of security systems, and develop guidelines to support companies in adopting such technologies.
“In NQSN, we will bring quantum innovation to deployed optical networks, where we can study operational issues such as a quantum network’s reliability and resilience together with our industry partners,” said Assistant Professor Charles Lim, lead principal investigator (PI) for the NQSN. Lim is from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Centre for Quantum Technologies at NUS.
The project’s research team expects to have the first nodes up within a year. They will simultaneously establish a quantum security lab to dive into advanced quantum security vulnerability research and secure design. They will also organise workshops with potential end-users to better understand their needs and build awareness of the new technologies available.
Currently, there are plans to deploy 10 network nodes across Singapore connected to fibre. This includes two at NUS, two at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU), and at various premises of government and private companies.
The nodes will be connected to provide a public network that can act as a living lab for organisations wanting to experience quantum-safe communication technologies, and separate government and private networks trialling dedicated users’ applications.
A further experimental node at NUS will make a free-space connection to the public network, developing technologies that can extend secure links to locations that cannot be connected to fibre or that are frequently moving, such as boats.
“The NQSN aims to enhance network security for critical infrastructure with superior quantum technology and solutions, while also serving as a robust platform for public-private collaboration,” said Ling Keok Tong, director (Smart Nation & Digital Economy) at NRF.
The 15 participating organisations will contribute in different ways to the network. NUS, NTU and Fraunhofer Singapore will provide expertise, coordination and locations for hardware.
AWS, Government Technology Agency of Singapore, the National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) Singapore and ST Telemedia Global Data Centres will contribute to development of use cases. ST Engineering and Thales will work on network security, providing hardware for integration into the network.
Other partners involved are the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), Defence Science and Technology Agency, HTX (Home Team Science and Technology Agency), DSO National Laboratories, Horizon Quantum Computing, as well as the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).