SK Telecom Continues to Arm its 5G Network with Quantum Cryptography


SK Telecom has applied ID Quantique’s Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) to its 5G authentication center (AuC) to prevent hacking and ensure quantum-safe security.

QRNG is a device that constantly generates “quantum random numbers,” which creates strong keys that are not biased and cannot be predicted.

ID Quantique, based in Switzerland, is the global leader in the field of quantum cryptography communication. SK Telecom invested USD 65 million in ID Quantique in February 2018 to further strengthen its technological capabilities.

The subscriber authentication process is the first and essential step in verifying a mobile device user before he/she is granted access to any voice and video data service, SMS, etc. Security in this process is crucial since the leakage of authentication key value can lead to serious crimes such as eavesdropping and hacking. Moreover, SK Telecom plans to install QRNG to AuC of its LTE network in April 2019.

Next month, SK Telecom will also apply ID Quantique’s Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology to the Seoul-Daejeon section – the most data traffic-concentrated section in Korea – of its 5G and LTE networks, to strengthen the security of 5G and LTE data transmission and reception.

QKD provides ultimate cryptographic security based on the laws of quantum mechanics. It enables two parties to produce a shared random secret key known only to them, which can then be used to encrypt and decrypt messages.

Going forward, SK Telecom plans to expand the application of quantum cryptography technologies by stages to further enhance the safety and security of its mobile networks.

Furthermore, SK Telecom is playing a pivotal role in global standardization of QKD and QRNG technologies at ITU-T. In February 2019, SK Telecom’s two new technologies related to QKD have been selected as work items by ITU-T’s Study Group 17 (SG17), which coordinates security-related work across all ITU-T Study Groups. Combining these two work items with the two on-going work items on QKD and QRNG technologies it proposed in July 2018, SK Telecom is currently leading a total of four meaningful work items in SG 17.

“As security emerges as one of the most important issues in the 5G era, SK Telecom is determined to provide the most secure 5G network and focus on expanding the ecosystem by developing quantum cryptography technologies,” said Park Jin-hyo, the Chief Technology Officer of SK Telecom.