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European Telecommunications Standards Institute: Computer Software

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written question – answered on 6th February 2020.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support her Department provides to ETSI in relation to the development of (a) quantum communications technology standards and (b) quantum key distribution.

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

Having agreed technical standards enables industry to provide products and services that work together and are an essential part of the electronic communications world. ETSI is one of the main standards organisations in this area. DCMS leads on standards for digital and electronic communications and pays the UK government membership fee to ETSI. DCMS is active on the board and a number of technical committees and coordinates the UK industry relationship with ETSI. The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) lead the technical work on quantum communications and quantum-safe cryptography from a UK government perspective.

The NPL has had a long-standing involvement with the ETSI Industry Specification Group (ISG) on quantum key distribution (ETSI ISG-QKD), acting as rapporteur for the creation of a published guidance document ETSI GS QKD 011 (2016) that created the first measurement ‘standard’ in quantum technologies. The NPL continues to contribute to the drafting of test standards through ETSI ISG-QKD and will continue to explore where it would be beneficial for the UK to have further participation in other standards organisations, eg. ITU and ISO.

The NCSC is not a member of the ETSI ISG-QKD but has worked with the group to provide security assurance of QKD products; and has been closely involved in the ETSI Quantum Safe Cryptography (QSC) group since its establishment – this group is focussed on transitioning internet security to using algorithms that could not be broken by a quantum computer.

As part of the National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP), Government supports research in quantum communications, which is co-ordinated through a hub led by the University of York. The hub’s expert advice contributes to standard setting through ETSI. Launched in 2014, the hub will have received around £48m in UKRI funding by 2024. In order to continue to develop these technologies towards commercialisation BEIS also funds collaborative quantum communications projects with industry through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Commercialising quantum technologies challenge.

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