China conducts first intercontinental quantum communication video call

Image courtesy of the State Council of the PRC.

On 29 September 2017, he China National Space Administration (CNSA), China’s space agency, conducted the world’s first video conferencing call through a quantum communication satellite network. The call, transmitted between Austria and Beijing, was also the first demonstration of intercontinental quantum communication.

The call was made between a ground station in Austria, operated by the Austrian Academy of Sciences as part of a partnership with CNSA, and the Beijing Control Room of a new quantum communication network known as the Beijing-Shanghai Line. The Beijing-Shanghai Line, which connects four cities in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Jinan and Hebei) consists of a 2,000km optical network.

During the call, Anton Zeilinger, President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, spoke with Bai Chunli, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, congratulating Chinese scientists on their achievements in the field of quantum communications. The call was made possible by integrating the Beijing-Shanghai Line with Micius, China’s quantum communication satellite launched last year and tested earlier this year.

The same day, commercial participants such as the Alibaba Group also used quantum encryption for data transmission.

Said Pan Jianwei, Chief Scientist of the project, “The Beijing-Shanghai Line can generate a secret key rate of more than 20 kbit/s, to meet the business needs of tens of thousands of users…Through this line, the Bank of Communications, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Alibaba Group, also successfully transmitted encrypted data from remote locations.”

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