Building on a “R&D 100” award-winning effort to run quantum cybersecurity technologies, EPB of Chattanooga and Qubitekk have joined together to launch America’s first industry-led, commercially available quantum network designed for private companies as well as government and university researchers to run quantum equipment and applications in an established fiber optic environment. EPB Quantum NetworkSM is a quantum-as-a-service offering that will provide quantum technologists with fiber optic infrastructure that integrates the latest foundational quantum equipment and software to accelerate their process for bringing quantum technologies to market.
Quantum technologies represent a new frontier to exponentially advance cybersecurity, sensing and next generation computing. This holds the promise for revolutionary benefits in protecting people from cyberthreats, launching a next generation internet and developing new advancements in healthcare, finance and other industries.
EPB Board Chair Vicky Gregg described how the project addresses a critical national priority while also aligning with EPB’s commitment to economic development in the Chattanooga area it serves. “With the growing global focus on the potential for quantum technologies to solve problems that would require decades of conventional computer processing, both U.S. companies and the federal government are investing billions of dollars in this emerging sector,” Gregg said. “EPB Quantum Network gives Chattanooga the opportunity to attract new investment while accelerating breakthroughs that could make a real difference for our community and the nation as a whole.”
David Wade, EPB president and CEO, likened the establishment of EPB Quantum Network to the deployment of Chattanooga’s fiber optic network and the launch of America’s first community-wide Gig-speed internet service. “When EPB announced ‘The Gig,’ everyone was asking what do you do with that much internet speed?” Wade said. “Since then, Gig-speed internet has served as a platform for innovation in opening up new opportunities for increased productivity, remote work, education, telehealth, entertainment and more. EPB Quantum Network is our step in opening up new vistas of possibility.”
Quantum-based communications reproduce a naturally occurring phenomenon in which a pair of light particles (photons) can be linked or “entangled” such that any change in one of the photons is instantaneously mirrored by its twin even when they are separated by great distances.
EPB’s primary partner in the project is Qubitekk, America’s foremost leader in designing, building and integrating the components for quantum networks, a precursor to the future development of the quantum-enabled internet. EPB Quantum Network is equipped with Qubitekk’s Bohr IVTM, a proprietary quantum networking system that generates, transmits and measures qubits.
“If U.S. companies and researchers continue to develop quantum technologies in isolation, they face barriers such as the cost and time necessary to put together an end-to-end solution instead of focusing on their particular piece of the puzzle,” said Dr. Duncan Earl, president and CTO of Qubitekk, Inc. “EPB Quantum Network powered by Qubitekk is purpose-built infrastructure that allows quantum technologists to run their solution collaboratively with other technologies while retaining their proprietary data and intellectual property.”
Bob Corker, former United States Senator and former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee emphasized the value of market-based solutions. “This is really a question of maintaining the global competitiveness of the United States,” he said. “As a country, it is critical for us to accelerate the development of quantum technologies to ensure our national cybersecurity and maintain America’s leadership position in the world. EPB Quantum Network is a critical resource for lowering the barriers to entry for private companies, so we can move quantum technologies into real-world application.”
The foundation for EPB Quantum Network builds on an R&D 100 award-winning effort that began more than five years ago. With U.S. Department of Energy funding aimed at securing America’s electric grid against cyberthreats, EPB, Qubitekk, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory partnered in 2021 to run quantum encryption technologies across real-world fiber optic loops that EPB established between some of its electric substations. As a result of the expertise EPB and Qubitekk gained through this earlier work and the technical breakthroughs they achieved, EPB Quantum Network is a comprehensive quantum network solution.
“This project shows how our effort to build partnerships among Oak Ridge National Laboratory, EPB and other technology-focused companies and organizations across the Tennessee Valley Technology Corridor can translate cutting-edge science into marketplace solutions,” said U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03).
“In Chattanooga, EPB’s unparalleled community-wide fiber optic network has already helped generate nearly $2.7 billion in economic benefits — including more than 9,500 jobs — since it was completed more than a decade ago,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. “Plain and simple, EPB is one of Chattanooga’s greatest competitive advantages, and we have a real opportunity to build on that success. EPB Quantum Network will once again position Chattanooga as an innovative leader in an emerging sector that will be vital to our national economy in the months and years ahead.”
“In Hamilton County, we’re focused on working together to offer an ideal business environment for companies ranging from start-ups to well-established enterprises,” said Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp. “The quantum future of Hamilton County is going to open up incredible opportunities for us to develop the most dynamic workforce in the South.”
According to Dr. Steven Angle, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), EPB Quantum Network also represents an opportunity for academic researchers and workforce development. “We’re proud to locate one of the EPB Quantum Network nodes on our campus,” said Chancellor Angle. “We’re also working to help EPB build out a quantum ecology to support new business investment. At the same time, we’re adding to our quantum physics faculty and building a curriculum to prepare a workforce for quantum companies. UTC will also serve as a gateway for building partnerships with other universities across the nation.”
EPB and Qubitekk are already utilizing EPB Quantum Network to share quantum states between two Quantum Equipment Hubs over a commercial fiber optic network. By summer 2023, the team will establish additional Quantum Nodes where subscribers can install their own quantum equipment. This will allow private companies, government agencies and academic researchers to use the quantum-as-a-service offering. EPB Quantum Network is reconfigurable for different needs using Qubitekk’s Bohr IVTM quantum networking system, which integrates foundational quantum network technologies including:
- Photonic qubit sources
- Four parallel qubit channels
- Single photon counting detectors
- Quantum-compatible fiber optic switches
- Integrated automatic polarization control
- Flexible, software-defined network architecture
- Dedicated fiber optic lines for distributing qubits
- Precision timing
Because EPB’s network spans the Chattanooga area with more than 3,750 cable miles of distribution fiber optics, EPB Quantum Network is easily scalable. In addition, EPB’s fiber optic network has a dedicated fiber optic connection to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and multiple fiber optic transport lines to major internet hubs. EPB recently upgraded its core network to 100 gig capacity and is more than halfway through a five-year, $70 million system-wide upgrade to keep Chattanooga’s community-wide fiber optic network on the cutting edge. As a result of this investment, EPB recently launched America’s first community-wide 25 Gig internet service.
Companies and researchers interested in learning more about using EPB Quantum Network to accelerate their quantum technologies to market can learn more at EPBQuantumNetwork.com.
Qubitekk designs, builds and integrates the hardware and software for quantum networks, a precursor to the quantum-enabled internet while championing the growth of a robust quantum ecosystem through education, advocacy and collaboration.
Co-founded by Dr. Duncan Earl, a nationally recognized pioneer in the field of practical quantum applications, Qubitekk holds more patents than any American player in the quantum communications space and has been recognized with an Edison Gold Award and R&D World’s R&D 100 award.
The company’s growing list of partners and customers includes NASA, GE, Verizon, Juniper, Boeing, the United States Department of Energy and the United States Department of Defense. For more information, visit Qubitekk.com.
EPB serves the people of the Chattanooga area with advanced smart city infrastructure to enable world-class energy and connectivity solutions that include the most resilient smart grid power distribution system in the United States and the fastest internet in the world. EPB gained national notice when it deployed a community-wide fiber optic network accessible to all its customers and used it to launch America’s first Gig-speed internet in 2010 (beating Google Fiber by 4 years) as well as the first community-wide 10 Gig internet service available as a standard offer to all residences and businesses in 2015. Most recently, EPB launched America’s first community-wide 25 Gig internet service, future-proofing the network’s capacity and keeping Chattanooga on the cutting edge.
EPB also utilized the fiber optic network as the communications backbone for deploying more than 200,000 smart switches, sensors and other devices to establish the most advanced and highly automated smart grid in the nation. As a result, the U.S. Department of Energy named EPB a living laboratory for pioneering smart grid technologies. Since then, EPB has partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and more than 20 other national research partners to play a critical role in more than $155 million in smart city research. EPB was also the first major power distribution utility to earn the GBCI’s PEER certification for having a highly automated, modernized electric power grid in 2015 and followed up in 2021 by re-certifying at PEER Gold.
EPB is an independent board of the City of Chattanooga which began serving customers in 1939. Visit epb.com for more information.