Now, for most applications, this is actually not terribly useful. That’s because modern cryptography is already darn good, it simply isn’t the weak link. Hackers don’t spend time breaking decryption algorithms, only researchers do that. Hackers spend time taking advantage of human error – either by programmers or by users – because humans make so many of them. But governments love this sort of thing, since they like to think they have the people side of security licked. Well also because they may have (or simply dream of having) the stockpiled resources to attack encrypted streams directly, so they fear others have or seek the same capability.
Why Abovenet? Well for one thing, the work is going on in London where Abovenet has a dense network. And for another, when it comes to quantum cryptographic networks, we are still talking about slow speeds over metro distances. Only recently researchers managed to achieve 10Mbps over a distance of 20km, which was a huge leap from 10kbps. So we aren’t talking about a secure telepresence hotline between Washington and Moscow here. More like a single video feed across town over a metro ring. I don’t quite understand where the speed and distance limitations come from, but obviously they are working on it. Other than that, I don’t know what Abovenet gets out of this except a relationship with a defense contractor and some good PR – but maybe that’s plenty.
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