At the ATxSummit Social, part of Asia Tech x Singapore (ATxSG), the region’s most influential technology event, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Heng Swee Keat, announced the launch of the National Quantum-Safe Network Plus (NQSN+) which aims to deliver quantum-safe communications across Singapore.
Making early moves
The NQSN+ is part of Singapore’s Digital Connectivity Blueprint launched by Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, Josephine Teo on Monday, 5 June 2023, ahead of ATxSG. The Blueprint outlines the next bound of Singapore’s digital connectivity which will take us up to 2030. Beyond Singapore’s strategic priorities, one of the early moves Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is making is in the NQSN+ to enhance the resilience and security of businesses in Singapore’s digital economy.
Quantum computing is an emerging technology that uses principles of quantum physics to solve problems too complex for classical computers. Quantum computers are also expected to unlock unprecedented advancements in raw computing power, simulation and optimisation with the potential to revolutionize industries and spur innovation.
At the same time, quantum computers will introduce new security risks as they can break many encryption algorithms that we rely on today. Singapore needs to be ready to adopt quantum-safe technologies to strengthen the digital infrastructure and build resistance against quantum attacks.
Securing digital connectivity
Building on more than 10 years of quantum research efforts from the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT), hosted by the National University of Singapore, the National Quantum-Safe Network (NQSN) was launched in 2022 to conduct nationwide trials of quantum-safe communications technologies to enhance network security. Collaborating with universities, companies and government agencies, NQSN has demonstrated the technical feasibility of deploying quantum-safe technologies, such as Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), to protect against quantum computing risks.
As a first step towards the broader vision of a quantum-safe Singapore, IMDA’s NQSN+ will support network operators to deploy quantum-safe networks nationwide, so that businesses have easy access to solutions to safeguard their critical data.
The NQSN+ will start with at least two network operators. Each will build a nationwide, interoperable quantum safe network that can serve all businesses. Businesses can work with the NQSN+ operators to integrate quantum-safe solutions to safeguard their critical data and information in the quantum age.
IMDA has received proposals from Singtel, and from a joint partnership between SPTel and SpeQtral, and is evaluating these proposals.
Collaborating with global leaders
As part of Singapore’s efforts to push the next bound of interoperable quantum-safe networks, IMDA together with the NQSN team, are driving international and local standardization of quantum-safe technologies. Singapore will co-lead the first standardization of the QKD protocol framework at the ITU Telecommunication Standardisation Sector (ITU-T), together with Japan. Domestically, we have also published Singapore’s first Reference Specification (RS) on QKD Networks to guide technology vendors and organizations keen to deploy QKD networks, today. These efforts would serve to promote the deployment of QKD networks, fostering the adoption of quantum security both nationally and globally.
International connectivity is a key element for Singapore to remain plugged into the global economy. Singapore aims to integrate NQSN+ with quantum-safe networks of other cities. This will enable enterprises to build and deploy quantum-safe solutions across global markets. As a start, IMDA has signed an MoU with the Republic of Korea’s National Information Society Agency (NIA) to collaborate on quantum technologies and standardization efforts. This collaboration will also facilitate the exchange of learnings and experiences between the network operators in their implementation of quantum-safe networks.
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