Quantum Networks: The Next Internet?
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A Quantum Internet Is On The Horizon

The advancements of quantum technology have progressed to the point where technology innovators are launching start-ups to bring commercial products and services to market. This has caught the attention of many business and technology strategists! At this point, some of these commercial products do not seem that far off into the future. One of the quantum technologies that fits very well into this area is quantum networks. If you haven’t heard of quantum networks, you are not alone. However, that has begun to change and will without question accelerate in the near-term.

Quantum Networks

Quantum networks are becoming an essential element in the information systems of the future. While early on in the evolution of this emerging technology, quantum networks also provide essential communications with quantum computers. Quantum networks transmit multiple forms of data and information that has been converted to qubits (quantum bits). One quantum processor, system, or device converts the data/information to qubits and sends it across a network to another quantum processor, system, or device. Arguably the greatest benefit to quantum networks is the level of security they have embedded in their design. That benefit is brought about by quantum encryption which makes it impossible at this point in time to break in, steal and decode the data so it can be read, used, and/or made sense of.

Based on where quantum stands today, quantum networking technology products and services are projected to experience robust growth over the next few years. A 2020 report published by Inside Quantum Technology (IQT) placed the global quantum networking market at $5.5 billion USD in 2025. Looking at quantum encryption as a stand-alone security solution indicates another robust market. Markets and Research reported that the global Quantum Cryptography Industry would top $1.5 billion USD in 2027. Given both of these technology segments were still on the whiteboards of researchers a few years ago, that is substantial growth.

Quantum Internet

Currently, there are some essential networks that are critical to day-to-day operations that are already being protected by quantum encryption. As quantum networking and quantum encryption continue to advance and evolve into business solutions, they will likely protect a growing portion of a nation’s critical infrastructure, digital communications and information. Another quantum associated movement has begun.

This initiative is examining the potential of a Quantum Internet. The continued advancement of the quantum technologies just discussed, has enabled the experimentation into their application in what would be the next generation of the internet, and that is well underway. Some start-ups have already begun to explore the commercial opportunities surrounding the development of the technology and services of a quantum internet. With all of the hacking and cyber-crime that exists today with the current internet, the potential value of a quantum internet is easy to understand. However, some existing internet players would be negatively impacted by this and are likely to resist movement to a quantum internet.

It appears that it is no longer a question of if a quantum internet will be the next giant step ahead, it is a question of when it will become as dominant as the internet is today. In mid-2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) along with the University of Chicago in a press conference announced their blueprint that addressed the development of a national quantum internet. There are a growing number of people that believe the foundation for the global quantum internet is currently being put in place and the DOE announcement clearly supports their thinking. Once a global quantum internet is put in place, operations over the quantum internet will be much faster and far more secure.

DOE’s National Quantum Initiative Act

Note: Resistance to a quantum internet is out there and will not easily go away any time soon. After all, with all those that could benefit from such an advancement, there will be those that lose out!

With all of this going on and their estimated implications, individuals and organizations should take action. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Quickly implement quantum technology into the science and technology curriculum of high schools, colleges, and universities. (Skilled quantum resources are currently in short supply!)
  • Professional organizations should develop and deliver continuing education modules that address quantum networking, quantum encryption, and quantum internet development.
  • Instructors should integrate The Quantum Internet and Quantum Networking into their own personal continuing education courses that they plan to take in the next couple of years.
  • Keep up with developments by creating online alerts that look for new internet content on the elements of quantum technology that are of interest to you.
  • Businesses should analyze how quantum technologies will positively and negatively impact their industry, products, and services and plan for it.

With all the emerging technologies coupled with the continuous change environment that we have entered, a continuous education model must be developed and implemented quickly. Without such an operational model, people, businesses, and even countries will suffer from technology insecurities. Once in that position, it will be extremely hard to overcome!

Conclusion

All of this is just a small part of the global emerging technology race that is underway and shows no end in sight. Once again, quantum networking, quantum encryption, and the quantum internet are another set of integrated pieces of emerging technology that will have a substantial impact on all of us in the not-so-distant future. As such, it would be a good idea to monitor the evolution of quantum technology in general—quantum networking, quantum encryption, and the quantum internet. As quantum technologies continue to evolve and become closer to where they are a common part of the world, thinking about their integration, disruption and opportunities must take place.

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