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GSMA partners with IBM, Vodafone on Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce

The three organisations will work together to create a roadmap to implement quantum-safe networking

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The GSMA has teamed up with IBM and Vodafone to form the GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce, which the trio say will support the roadmap for post-quantum cryptology.

Their aim is to help define policy, regulation, and operator business processes for the enhanced protection of telecommunications as quantum computing takes on a more prominent role.

Instead of relying on bits for calculation like today’s computers, quantum machines leverage the exponential power of quantum bits, called qubits. That involves a simultaneous mix of 0s and 1s and opens up the possibility of solving complex of problems that today’s supercomputers struggle with.

The Taskforce has been set up to help navigate these new waters. The team will help define requirements, identify dependencies, as well as create the roadmap to implement quantum-safe networking, to help mitigate potential risks.

“The GSMA Taskforce’s goal is to bring together leading global communication services providers with experts from IBM, Vodafone, and other operators and ecosystem partners to understand and implement quantum-safe technology,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer at the GSMA.

These future quantum-safe controls will aim to protect sensitive business information and consumer data from attackers that harvest present-day data for later decryption.

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That will be no small feat, either. In its announcement, the GSMA noted the World Economic Forum’s recent estimation that more than 20 billion devices will need to be upgraded or replaced in the next 10-20 years in order to use the new forms of quantum-safe encrypted communication.

“By working together to establish consistent policies, we can define quantum-safe approaches that protect critical infrastructure and customer data, complementing our ongoing security efforts to increase resiliency in future networks,” Sinclair added.

Back in July 2022, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced it had chosen the first four post-quantum cryptography algorithms to be standardised for cyber security in the quantum computing era.

These were designed to rely on the computational difficulty of problems from the mathematical areas such as lattices, isogenies, hash functions, and multivariate equations, and protect current systems from future quantum machines.

Taskforce member IBM, which boasts the world’s largest fleet of cloud-accessible quantum computers, contributed to the development of three of these four chosen algorithms.

“Given the accelerated advancements of quantum computing, data and systems secured with today’s encryption could become insecure in a matter of years,” warned Scott Crowder, Vice President of IBM Quantum Adoption and Business Development.

“IBM is pleased to work with the GSMA Post-Quantum Telco Network Taskforce members to prioritize the telco industry’s move to adopt quantum-safe technology.”

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