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Cisco Investments Takes a Quantum Leap | Cisco Investments

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Cisco Investments Takes a Quantum Leap

Kay Min's avatar

Kay Min

Cisco Investments has for years kept a keen eye on the emerging technology of quantum technologies. Its recent investment in Aliro Quantum aims to bring the benefits of entanglement-based quantum networking to customers and the world. 

As the first pure play quantum networking company, Aliro provides quantum network configuration, control, and orchestration for America’s first industry-led commercially available quantum network, known as the EPB Quantum Network. 

To find out more about Cisco’s partnership with Aliro, check out the video interview between myself and Aliro CTO and co-founder Dr. Prineha Narang.

Top three takeaways

  • What problem is Aliro trying to solve?

The inherently secure nature of quantum networks makes them especially attractive to users such as utility companies, telecommunications providers, public sector organizations, enterprises, and others. Aliro’s initial focus is unhackable secure communications between sites, including building a secure communication network, and ultimately a Quantum Internet that leverages this secure communication. Other applications include scaling quantum computing and distributed quantum sensing in both terrestrial and space environments. The backbone of these networks is what’s known as “entanglement” — a quantum phenomenon in which a change in the state of one quantum system instantaneously affects the state of another, distant one. 

  • What is Aliro building?

In October 2022, Aliro introduced the world’s first multi-purpose entanglement-based quantum network solution. The solution can be used in three distinct modes: 1) an emulation mode that uses simulation to mimic entanglement-based quantum networks, which can be used, for example, to accelerate pilot design; 2) a pilot mode for implementing small-scale pilots and trial deployments on third-party hardware; and 3) deployment mode for scaling pilots into full-scale production quantum networks spanning large geographical distances. A successful proof of concept is the EPB Quantum Network, which is backed by a Tennessee-based utility. A small network that demonstrates the reliability and performance of a quantum network, Narang calls it “a sandbox network” and encourages users to try it, test it, and break it.

  • How do Aliro and Cisco networking solutions complement each other?

Cisco’s market leadership in classical networking would enable Aliro and Cisco to create joint products and to jointly pursue opportunities to build full-scale entanglement-based quantum networks spanning large geographical distances. Aliro’s team already comprises deep expertise in both quantum and classical networks, and its solution can operate hand-in-glove with traditional classical networks and existing fiber installations, so it does not require a forklift upgrade to implement an entanglement-based quantum network. Combining Cisco’s expertise in networking, systems engineering, and systems integration with Aliro’s expertise potentially opens a pathway to bringing quantum networks to market very fast.

Entanglement-based quantum networking has the potential to revolutionize the field of communication and information processing. In particular, it is a key component of the vision for a global Quantum Internet that would allow quantum communication and distributed quantum computing tasks across the globe, ushering in a new era of information exchange and computation.

That’s a quantum leap Cisco is up for.