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Optical and Quantum Communications, and the Quantum Internet

(The World Fiber Communication Network - The Fiber Optic Association)

Transforming the Way the World Connects


- Overview

Fiber optics has revolutionized communications by providing faster speeds, increased bandwidth, and enhanced reliability. They also make it possible to communicate without interference and enhance security. 

Fiber optics have replaced copper cables and phone lines, providing superior bandwidth and reducing signal loss. Their construction has also become more cost-effective.

Fiber optic technology impacts the world in many ways, including: 

  • Improved communications: Fiber optic technology has improved communications and led to advancements in various fields including medicine, industry, and research.
  • Faster Internet Speed: Fiber optic networks provide faster Internet speeds.
  • High-speed data transmission: Optical fiber technology enables high-speed data transmission over long distances.


Charles Kuen Kao is known as the "Father of Fiber Optic Communications" for discovering certain physical properties of glass in the 1960s.


- The Fiber Optics Revolution

The National Science Foundation (NSF) created the first high-speed backbone in 1987. Called NSFNET, it's a T1 line that connects 170 smaller networks together and runs at 1.544 Mbps (megabits per second). IBM, MCI, and Merit partnered with NSF to create the backbone, and the following year developed a T3 (45 Mbps) backbone. 

The rapid penetration of the Internet and wireless communications in modern society has led to an explosive increase in the demand for broadband transmission capacity. 

As people and businesses become more connected, their daily lives and work are increasingly online – from communicating via email, shopping online and watching streaming video, to building something based on “big data” cloud-based computing and business analytics. In less than two decades, billions of people's lives have become increasingly dependent on fast broadband "connections." 

To meet this demand, telecommunications providers have been turning to fiber optic cables to transmit data, first at the core of their networks and then gradually expanding the reach of fiber. This steady development has continued for about a quarter of a century. 

As a result, fiber assets are now an integral backbone of today's hybrid communications networks for fixed-line and mobile infrastructure and data centers.


- Submarine (Undersea) Fiber Optic Cables Connecting Continents

With the blink of an eye and the push of a button, you can send an email from the US to Europe, or visit a website anywhere in the world. It's so easy we didn't even think about it, but the truth is it's actually pretty complicated. In fact, nearly 750,000 miles of submarine (undersea) cables have been laid in the ocean to enable this type of intercontinental communication. 

Currently, 97% of international communications are sent via submarine cables. The cables connecting the continents lie thousands of feet below the ocean's surface. Submarine cables serve our internet and $10 trillion in financial transactions every day. 

Mainly owned and installed by private companies, submarine cables are designed to withstand the naturally harsh conditions of the ocean floor and are not easily cut. 

Typically more than an inch in diameter, submarine cables consist of optical fibers - glass filaments as thin as a hair - in the center, surrounded by a galvanized steel wire armor, and then on the outside, a plastic coating. 

Submarine cables are designed to meet the "five nines" standard - meaning they are reliable 99.999% of the time, a level commonly used in nuclear weapons and space shuttles.


- Fiber Optic Technology

Everywhere on the planet, thin optical fibers carry vast amounts of information from one place to another. 

The optical fibers used to transmit this information have many desirable properties. They have enormous information-carrying capacity, are low cost, and are immune to the many disturbances that can affect wires and wireless communication links. 

The advantages of optical fibers in carrying information from one place to another are causing them to rapidly replace older technologies. Optical fiber has played a key role in enabling the extraordinary growth of global communications and has been critical in facilitating widespread use of the Internet.

Today's global businesses require faster, more secure, and higher-capacity communications systems for network operations. Fiber optic technology is expected to play a major role in this growth. 

A study and market research has determined that the fiber optic market could grow at a CAGR of 8.5% through 2025, which means that more industries will be looking to the solutions this technology offers. From healthcare systems to marine environments, fiber optic cables have proven to be an essential part of industrial infrastructure.

Fiber optic cable assemblies are also playing an increasingly important role in residential applications. Homeowners now expect high-speed internet access to be a part of their daily lives, and leaders in the telecommunications and data industries are turning to fiber optic technology as a clean, reliable way to deliver expected services.

- Fiber-optics: The Key Conductor in the Telecom Infrastructure

Nothing has changed the world of communications more than the development and implementation of fiber optics. Today, fiber optics is the communication medium of choice for virtually everything from phones, cell phones, CATV, LAN backbones, security cameras, industrial networks, and more. Hundreds of submarine cables connect the world, carrying data, voice and video.

User traffic on operator networks is growing at a rate of 20% to 40% per year, and if this trend continues as expected, optical transport networks will become overwhelmed without a significant increase in capacity beyond operations. 

Solutions to this problem are likely to include a combination of new technologies, expanded bandwidth, network autonomy, and more fiber-optic links, up to a factor of 10 over the next decade.

Fiber optic technology has come a long way, but this era of innovation is just the beginning. From technological breakthroughs to vast new networks, a series of exciting projects promises to bring the world into a new, more revolutionary era of fiber optics.

In short, fiber optic cable is an advanced network cable with significantly higher throughput than power communication cables. These cables consist of very thin glass or plastic wires (called optical fibers) and use entirely optical (light-based) technology to transmit information between two places.  

New York City_111220A
[New York City, New York - Civil Engineering Discoveries]

- Quantum Secure Communications

Quantum secure communication is a method that promises to be "quantum secure" when quantum computing systems that could break current cryptosystems emerge.

An important component of a quantum-secure communication system is expected to be quantum key distribution, or "QKD": a method of transmitting information using entangled light in such a way that any interception of transmissions is obvious to the user.

Another technology in the field is quantum random number generators for securing data. This produces truly random numbers without following the process of computational algorithms that merely mimic randomness.

A quantum computer is the ultimate quantum network, a device that can store and process quantum data (as opposed to binary data) with links that transmit quantum information between "quantum bits" or "qubits." If developed, quantum computers are expected to be able to execute certain algorithms faster than today's largest classical computers.

Quantum computers promise many important uses in computing fields such as optimization and machine learning. They are probably best known for their expected ability to perform "Shor's algorithm," which can be used to factor large numbers, an important process for securing data transmissions. 

- Quantum Communication Networks

An emerging technology called quantum networking enables geographically dispersed users to share entangled qubits. This type of network can improve security and support new communication tasks, such as generating shared encryption keys. 

Advances in computing hardware can increase and complement the utility of public-key cryptography. Thanks to the quantum communication network, customers can also access third-party quantum computers in the cloud, simplifying calculations without compromising their confidential data or valuable code.

Researchers have recently made significant progress in building such quantum communication networks. China launched the world's first quantum communications satellite in 2016, and since then they have been busy testing and expanding the limits of sending entangled photons from space to a ground station on Earth and back again. They also managed to store information using quantum memory. 

China developed the world's first mobile quantum satellite station (January 2020). The world's first portable ground station for sending and receiving secure quantum communications is up and running. 

Mobile portable satellite stations exploit the inherent properties of photons to establish secure channels for transmitting and receiving quantum communications. And the station has been successfully connected to Mozi, the world's first quantum communication satellite developed in 2016.


- Quantum Internet

Today's Internet is not the last frontier of communications. Physicists have created a new method of communication in which information can be sent over the so-called "quantum internet," a network of quantum devices that provide ultra-secure communications, ultra-precise timing, and many other scientists that couldn't even begin to apply predictions.

As China gets closer to building an efficient quantum communication network, the possibility of a quantum internet is becoming more and more real. 

In the simplest terms, a quantum internet is an internet that uses quantum signals rather than radio waves to send information. The quantum internet of the future will utilize qubits of quantum information, which can have an infinite number of values.

As we all know, the Internet uses radio frequencies to connect various computers through a global network in which electronic signals are sent back and forth. In a quantum internet, entangled quantum particles will be used to send signals through a quantum network. 

The quantum internet will be the platform for the quantum ecosystem, where computers, networks and sensors exchange information in a whole new way, where sensing, communication and computing actually work together as one entity.


 <More to come ..>


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