The culmination of an idea born in 2019, a “Quebec quantum communications network” called Kirq will be established in Montreal, Quebec and Sherbrooke to accelerate research in this promising field.
This project, estimated at 13 million, with 6.5 million coming from Quebec and 3.6 million from Ottawa, will be deployed and operated by the non-profit NUMANA. This was announced on Monday in the presence of Minister of Economy, Innovation and Energy Pierre Fitzgibbon and his colleague Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Federal Minister of Tourism and responsible for Canadian economic development of the Quebec regions.
Unique in Canada
Essentially, we will first create a dedicated fiber infrastructure for quantum communications research in three cities in Quebec. In Montreal, for example, this network will connect three facilities. It will be available to companies and small and medium enterprises, startOr research centers or educational institutions that want to experiment with quantum-based communications methods. Sherbrooke already has its own testbed, in the DistriQ innovation district, while its tests are scheduled to take place in Montreal and Quebec in early 2024. It is expected that these three local networks, called “nodes”, will eventually be interconnected.
Why is new infrastructure needed? “The existing fibre-optic network, connecting Montreal and Quebec for example, does not work in terms of quantum,” explains Benoit Simard, vice president of products and business solutions at Telus, one of the suppliers of this network with Bell and Ciena.
This test bed was introduced as a unique initiative in Canada. In the world, South Korea and China have already established such networks, but commercially and on a much larger scale, with a length of 800 and 2,000 kilometers, respectively.
An “inevitable” development.
Finally, François Borelli, CEO of Numana, explained in an interview, Kirq will also use satellite and 5G communications modes in addition to optical fiber.
Kirk “wants to be a testing ground for all players in the ecosystem,” he concludes. He agrees that research into quantum computing is still in its early stages, but he believes Quebec has no choice in being at the forefront. “One thing is certain, it will happen. It is time to act today.”
Quantum computing, which promises computing power infinitely superior to existing computers, risks disrupting a particularly crucial field: cryptography.
“The current infrastructure will be completely disrupted, that is inevitable,” says Gilles Brassard, a professor at the University of Montreal and a global leader in quantum cryptography. The day a quantum computer becomes a reality, everything that was ever encrypted could be taken out of mothballs and decoded. »
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