Applying the QKD Experience to Shape the Quantum Internet

The recently initiated QIRG is a research group within the IRTF (the research branch of the IETF, the organization behind most, if not all, the Internet standards) focused on “Internet protocols for the emerging world of Internet-scale quantum communications”. This group has started to explore the common architectural concepts and protocol principles that would allow to build the mechanisms to support the communication of future quantum computation systems in the open and scalable way the current Internet supports network applications of any nature, and the necessary interactions between the classical and quantum wings of the Internet of the future.

The OPENQKD team has started and active collaboration with QIRG, under the premise that the experience in the deployment of QKD and their interaction with current networks and operational practices can be extremely valuable for identifying the principles for such a future Quantum Internet. To start with, the applicability of well-known layering schemas based on the packet encapsulation mechanisms (think of the omnipresent OSI seven layers) needs to be re-assessed according to the specific nature of quantum communication. At the same time, the already established control procedures (for provisioning, routing, monitoring…) have to be adapted as well.

Work has just started, and initial collaboration seems very promising. It is not only that we are working in the enhancement of current network technologies, but also bringing real-life experience to shape the Quantum Internet to come.