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Concerns are growing over the security vulnerability of 5G networks which are predicted to transform the telecommunications industry in the next decade. A new research has demonstrated a ground-breaking solution for securing future critical communications infrastructures, including emerging 5G networks. The solution leverages on quantum technologies.

The work was carried out by the High Performance Networks (HPN) Research Group at the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab.

The technology will enable 5G network operators to offer ultimately secure 5G services while guaranteeing ultra-low-latency and high-bandwidth communications. This is due to the novel combination of quantum and infrastructure virtualization technologies, according to bristol.ac.uk.

Recent advances in software engineering and commodity computing technologies have revolutionized the telecommunications industry in the past 10 years.  Entire classes of network communication services that have traditionally been carried out by proprietary, dedicated hardware, are now virtualized and hosted in commodity computing servers. This is commonly referred to as ”Network Softwareisation”.   

The move of critical network communication functions into software, distributed across the internet however, imposes significant security risk for telecommunications networks and specifically for 5G networks that rely entirely on such software architecture.

Any malicious attempt to tamper with these virtualized network functions can potentially put the whole internet and its users at risk.

The new research addresses this problem with a new, fully programmable network virtualization platform leveraging on quantum technologies for securing function virtualization and service orchestration.

The proposed quantum secured 5G virtualization platform is capable of working across multiple 5G operators’ networks (i.e. EE, O2, Vodafone etc.). It creates on-demand complex and collaborative 5G network services across operators’ domains, while utilizing quantum cryptography and optical interconnection infrastructure to secure services and guarantee 5G Key Performance Indicators (3GPP KPIs).

Professor Reza Nejabati, Head of the HPN Research Group, said: “Hardware and software technologies reported in this paper can potentially revolutionize 5G networks. They empower network operators to leverage the flexibility and programmability offered by virtualization technology in order to create new types of internet services while taking advantages of transmission at the speed of light and also securing the system using quantum technology”.