(Yicai Global) Nov. 14 -- An industry expert told Yicai Global that the Zhejiang section of the 260-kilometer Shanghai-Hangzhou line, the world's first commercial quantum communication link, has recently gone into operation and the entire link will be up an running by the end of this year. The Beijing-Shanghai link will also be completed in the near future, marking the start of commercial quantum communications.
Quantum communications will be commercialized in three phases, each lasting three to five years, said Zheng Shaohui, chairman of QTEC, a contractor for the Shanghai-Hangzhou Link.
"During the first three to five years (the first phase), equipment manufacturers need to reduce production costs, ensure reliable equipment performance and industrialized maintenance, laying the groundwork for large-scale promotion," Zheng said. "It involves the creation of a complete industry chain connecting material and chip producers in the upstream, relevant telecommunication equipment manufacturers in the midstream and carriers in the downstream, as well as applications of quantum communication technology."
During the first phase, added Zheng, quantum communications will be primarily used for secure military, financial, energy and government information transmissions, with end-users being large corporations such as the State Grid and PetroChina. Both the Shanghai-Hangzhou Link and the Beijing-Shanghai Link are important infrastructure facilities.
"The second phase lasts five years and telecommunication carriers will be the lead players," he said. "Once fully-developed equipment becomes available, operators such as China Mobile and China Telecom will come on the scene. Massive Metropolitan Area Networks will be constructed and a quantum communications network will emerge. A large number of companies such as quantum smartphones, quantum whiteboards and quantum POS device producers will also be involved in the process."
"Main players of phase-three, which also lasts five years, will be online platform operators, and there will be new BATs [Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent]," he said. "In the future, companies rivaling the BATs will be those specializing in technology model innovation."
Quantum communication is characterized by highly efficient and secure data transmission. To date, China has achieved several breakthroughs in quantum communications technology and has remained a global leader in the field.
QTEC is developing secure mobile phones in collaboration with a smartphone maker and the first prototype is expected to make its debut by year-end, Zheng said.
The core technology involved in producing the secure phone is the storage key solution and QTEC and some other companies are working on it, according to Zheng. The technology concerns smartphone interfaces and the development of random number generating devices.
Once the phone has been fully developed, carriers will get involved. "Mobile operators represent the true power of the industry," said Zheng.
"The quantum communications market will be worth hundreds of billions of yuan and no individual company will be able to cover it," said Zhao Yong, general manager of QuantumCTek Co., an upstream quantum communication equipment manufacturer. "The sheer size of the market requires many companies working together within a common environment."