Government and university leaders in Chattanooga on Wednesday called on researchers, entrepreneurs and academics from Washington, D.C. to come to Chattanooga to test their new computing, cybersecurity and other new technologies using the world’s first quantum network. commercial built on EPB fiber optic connections.
EPB, the utility that has built the fastest citywide Internet service in the Western Hemisphere using its fiber optic network, announced plans Wednesday to use those same fiber links to launch a new quantum network that could be the backbone of the next generation Internet.
EPB and a San Diego-based research company known as Qubitekk have been working on a quantum cybersecurity network for the protection of the US power grid for six years and now plan to expand the quantum network and open it to other users in the first-of-its-kind community-wide service.
“Through our work, EPB and Qubitekk have gained fundamental expertise in how to establish and operate quantum networks as real-world infrastructure,” said EPB President Vicky Gregg during of an announcement Wednesday at the Quantum World Congress in Washington, D.C. “Our goal is to accelerate private efforts by universities, private companies, and other national research organizations to commercialize quantum technologies.”
Gregg said the new EPB Quantum Network will provide quantum technologists with fiber optic infrastructure that incorporates the latest foundational quantum equipment and software to help bring technologies to market.
Duncan Earl, President and CTO of Qubitekk Inc., said quantum technologies represent a new frontier for exponentially advancing cybersecurity, sensing and next-generation computing. US spending on quantum technologies has already increased from $417 million in 2017 to more than $3 billion last year, and it is expected to continue to rise, Earl said.
Earl said the EPB Quantum Network can help bring different users together to identify new and better ways and uses for emerging technologies and services.
“If American companies and researchers continue to develop quantum technologies in isolation, they face hurdles such as the cost and time required to implement an end-to-end solution instead of focusing on their piece. particular part of the puzzle,” Earl said during Wednesday’s conference. announcement of the new network. “This purpose-built infrastructure allows quantum technologists to run their solution in collaboration with other technologies while retaining their proprietary data and intellectual property.”
Former Chattanooga Mayor and U.S. Senator Bob Corker said quantum computing “is going to be front and center in 20 years” and EPB’s network is expected to propel Chattanooga into a leadership role in emerging technology. of the future by lowering the barriers for private companies and researchers to develop quantum technologies and products.
“It’s a monumental announcement for our country and our community to be part of something bigger than us,” Corker said. “We invite businesses from all over the United States to come to Chattanooga and make it work for America.”
BUILD GIG CITY
EPB began installing its fiber network in its 600 square mile service territory in 2009 to help create a smarter power grid and, in the process, also built a fiber communications network capable of delivering up to 25 gigabits per second Internet speeds for a host of data delivery and communication options.
Chattanooga has billed itself as “the city of the gig” since EPB created the first community-wide Internet Gig service in 2010, and a study by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found that the network of EPB’s fiber optic has already generated nearly $2.7 billion in economic benefits and helped create nearly 10,000 more jobs in Chattanooga.
The network is also capable of sharing quantum bits of information, or qubits, which are the quantum computing equivalent of the binary digit or bit in classical computing. Just as a bit is the basic unit of information in a classical computer, a qubit is the basic unit of information in a quantum computer. The EPB network has common-use equipment needed for quantum computing, communications, and sensing.
EPB Chairman David Wade said the utility has a node for the quantum network at EPB’s downtown headquarters and another node about a mile away.
“We will be adding a third node next summer,” Wade said in a phone interview Wednesday. “As the technology develops and we have people coming here and we get more users, we will continue to expand the network and allow it to grow as the technology, the utility and demand warrant it. I think we’ll see a lot of interest over the next few weeks and months from people interested in this technology and coming to Chattanooga.”
Wade said the EPB has already had discussions with potential quantum users, and Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly and Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp, as well as UTC Chancellor Steve Angle , were at the Quantum World Congress to help promote Chattanooga and recruit academic and commercial researchers.
“Our region has a real opportunity to become the nation’s next innovation and technology hub with the potential for federal funding that would catalyze unprecedented levels of growth and create hundreds of new jobs in high-growth, high-wage sectors. high,” Kelly said Wednesday.
Wamp, who called EPB “America’s most extraordinary utility,” said EPB’s latest foray into quantum technologies is typical of how Chattanooga “is way above its weight.” .
Angle said UTC, which already uses EPB’s fiber optic network for a host of “smart city” programs and studies at the university’s Center for Urban Computing and Advancement, is eager to prepare the workforce needed to support new quantum technology ventures.
“We’re going to work really hard to help build a quantum ecosystem in our community that will attract talent and also help drive the economy,” Angle said.
BUILD THE BACKBONE
Earl said EPB’s quantum network is the first community network of its kind that is interconnected with more than 200 optical fibers with major expansion capability.
“This is critical infrastructure that the quantum industry badly needs to accelerate the development, adoption and scale of these technologies,” he said.
Quantum communications replicate a natural phenomenon in which a pair of light particles, or photons, are linked or “entangled” so that any change in one of the photons is instantly reflected by its twin even when separated by large distances.
EPB and Qubitekk have been working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory since 2016 to use quantum technology to improve cybersecurity, and their project was recognized a year ago as one of the top research projects and an award winner. R&D 100. The Quantum Protected Network was also named a finalist this year for a 2022 Edison Award.
“This project shows how our efforts to build partnerships between Oak Ridge National Laboratory, EPB, and other technology-focused companies and organizations across the Tennessee Valley Technology Corridor can translate cutting-edge science in market solutions,” said U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn. ., said Wednesday in a statement.
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6340. Follow him on Twitter @DFlessner1.
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