Standards are documents that detail precise technical specifications for products, processes and services. They play an important role in helping customers to know whether a system is fit for a particular purpose as well as helping manufacturers to build products that are able to interoperate with those from other companies. Standards play a particularly vital role in the introduction of new technologies into communications networks as they help network operators to know that an investment they make in a particular technology will have into the future.
Quantum key distribution (QKD) systems are currently being integrated into networks in several locations around the world in which they need to interact with other QKD systems, as well as classical communications equipment. There is an urgent need to develop a consistent set of standards for QKD systems as the basis upon which future deployments can be built.
QKD system designers, network operators and technical experts from around the world are working together within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to develop the specifications that are required for QKD. Toshiba are playing a leading role in this work within the Industry Specification Group (ISG) on Quantum Key Distribution.
ETSI write standards that underpin telecommunications networks around the world. It is the European Standards Organization (ESO) dealing with telecommunications, broadcasting and other electronic communications networks and services.
Some of the components used in QKD systems are either specialist or are operated under conditions not typically used in other systems. Standards for suitable components should help supply chains to develop and enable effective competition and reduced costs.
For all security products it is essential that the underlying technologies are implemented appropriately to produce products that can be trusted. Extensive work has been carried out to analyse the security of implementations of QKD protocols. Toshiba and other experts in this field are participating in the work of the ISG on QKD within ETSI.