One of the fastest fiber transport networks in the world is expected to begin connecting enterprise and academic customers within the next 30 days. The network operator, a young company called Quantum Corridor, expects some customers to deploy cutting edge quantum networks on top of the fiber infrastructure.
As Quantum Corridor President and Chief Technology Officer Ryan Lafler explained in an interview with Telecompetitor, the company will use advanced coherent optics to support total speeds of 40 Tbps, scalable to up to 1.2 petabits per second. According to Lafler, it will be the first public/private 40Tbps network in the Western Hemisphere.
“It’s extremely secure,” added Lafler. “It’s TAA compliant and provides a dedicated private and secure tunnel for every company.”
The maximum speed of individual customer connections will be 800 Gbps, but customers will be able to bond multiple 800 Gbps connections to achieve higher speeds.
Latency on the network will be less than 3 milliseconds, which according to Lafler, is 500 times faster than the blink of an eye.
The network initially will connect the very busy Chicago traffic exchange point at 350 E. Cermak with the Chicago Quantum Exchange at the University of Chicago, then will run along the Indiana toll road to a data center in Westville, Indiana near Purdue University’s northwest campus. Longer-term plans call for the network to extend to the Ohio border.
The state of Indiana awarded a $4 million grant to Quantum Corridor to go toward construction costs but does not own any part of the network, Lafler said.
A Quantum Edge
The network is being built with quantum networking in mind. Quantum networking is a whole new approach to networking that uses entangled subatomic particles at opposite ends of the connection to enable virtually instantaneous and highly secure communications.
Currently quantum communication over fiber is limited to a distance of about 30 miles. Recognizing that, Quantum Corridor is building entanglement sites spaced 30 miles apart along the network route. Those customers wanting to use quantum communications will be able to establish a connection between two such sequential sites.
As Lafler explained, not all the entities that Quantum Corridor has lined up to connect to the network are interested in quantum networking.
“Some just want speed and security,” he said.
Lafler expects the sheer speed of the Quantum Corridor network to be attractive to hyperscale data center operators that want to maximize their customers’ experience with gaming and other latency-sensitive applications.
He also noted, though, that some of the entities that will be connecting to the network will be using it for quantum communications.
Those using the network for quantum communications will be able to boost speeds even faster. As Lafler noted: “Computers aren’t smart; they’re fast.”
As he explained, the fiber communications technology underlying fiber networks is based on rapid trial and error, as well as algorithms. Quantum Corridor’s fiber network achieves speeds exceeding the speed of light 67% of the time. For the other 33%, communications fall back to the speed of light. Stated line rates are based on a weighted average.
In comparison, communications based on entangled particles is instantaneous and lossless, which means it should be able to exceed the stated line rate, which is already extremely fast.
There are other quantum networks in the U.S., but most are in academia. One notable exception is the quantum network that local power company EPB has built in Chattanooga.
EPB soon may have company, as some customers begin to deploy quantum networks on top of the public-private Quantum Corridor fiber.