Research at the University of Bristol has for the first time shown how quantum technology can be used to make 5G wireless networks more secure.

The research addresses widely reported concerns on security vulnerability of 5G networks which are predicted to transform the telecommunications industry in the next ten years. The work by the High Performance Networks (HPN) Research Group at the Smart Internet Lab was presented in the US last week.

Many functions of networks are now in software rather than dedicated hardware, making them more vulnerable to hackers. This is a particular risk for the coming 5G networks.

The keys is that the proposed quantum cryptography technology works across multiple 5G operators’ networks and different type of fibre optic network equipment.

“Hardware and software technologies reported in this paper can potentially revolutionise 5G networks,” said Professor Reza Nejabati, Head of the HPN Research Group. “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”.

Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, Director of the Smart Internet Lab, added: “5G networks will transform communications, industry and society in the next decade. However, security is a key concern for 5G deployment and is expressed widely in global media. The University of Bristol has pioneered research on 5G and quantum for a number of years and more recently led a number of landmark demonstrations of 5G benefits. With this new work, we bring together our research strengths to provide an ultimate security solution for 5G networks.”