Qunnect snags $8M for quantum metro network in New York City

Qunnect, a company specializing in quantum technology, has received $8 million in Series A financing to advance the launch of its quantum network testbed in New York City.

The multi-node network, connected to the city’s existing fiber optic cable, will be used to test entanglement distribution protocols – a key element of quantum computing.

The funding, led by Airbus Ventures, will also be used to further develop its product suite and scale manufacturing. Qunnect says it aims to integrate its entangled photon source and quantum memory products to enhance quantum key distribution (QKD) systems.

QKD is a secure communication method that works by transmitting photons between locations. The photons are generated into bit sequences, which can be used as data encryption keys.

“The establishment of a state-of-the-art testbed in the U.S. will open the door for customers in financial services, critical infrastructure and telecom to test our technologies in the New York metropolitan area,” said Noel Goddard, CEO of Qunnect, in a statement.

“This testbed allows us to showcase our first-of-their-kind quantum memory and entanglement sources, as well as our quantum network support hardware for precise timing and qubit stabilization,” she added.

According to Qunnect, its products stand out from other quantum networking technologies in that they’re designed for operation at room temperature. So, they don’t require extreme cooling or high vacuum support infrastructure.

Qunnect has made significant strides in the quantum networking sphere, releasing the world’s first commercial quantum memory product in September 2021. Quantum memory is a “critical component” in long-distance quantum-secure communication protocols, says the company.

Qunnect’s latest funding comes a few months after the company bagged $1.85 million in grant awards from the U.S. Department of Energy. Qunnect is using the money to further the development of its quantum repeater.

That wasn’t the first time Qunnect received federal funding. In April 2020, it acquired $1.5 million from the Department of Energy’s Small Business Innovation Research Phase II program.

“We have spent the last several years tailoring every one of our quantum devices to meet the requirements of large-scale, telecom-integrated quantum networking,” stated Mehdi Namazi, co-founder and chief science officer at Qunnect.

He added Qunnect is now ready to start its next phase of quantum networking with a “concentrated focus on scalability and field deployment.”

Operators are eyeing QKD as a way to enhance data encryption. BT and Toshiba last year unveiled they’re working on a quantum-secure metro network in London.

The U.K. operator is also testing QKD systems running over hollow core fiber.

And earlier this year, JPMorgan, Toshiba and Ciena successfully trialed a QKD network supporting 800 Gbps data rates.

Patrick Scully, senior advisor at Ciena, told Fierce at the time the company is “seeing an increasing interest in [QKD] and other areas of post-quantum cryptography from different customer segments that vary according to the specific applications and geographies.”