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China’s 2,000-km Quantum Link Is Almost Complete

The Beijing-Shanghai project will form the backbone of the nation’s quantum communications network

4 min read
Photo: Xinhua/Alamy
Quantum Space Link: Staff work on China’s quantum research satellite, which launched in August. It is part of a larger effort in the country to push the limits of quantum key distribution.
Photo: Xinhua/Alamy

By the end of this year, ateam led by researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China, in Hefei, aims to put the finishing touches on a 2,000-kilometer-long fiber-optic link that will wind its way from Beijing in the north to the coastal city of Shanghai.

What will distinguish this particular stretch of fiber from myriad other long-distance links is its intended application: the exchange of quantum keys for secure communication—a sophisticated gambit to protect data from present and future hackers. If all goes according to plan, this Beijing–Shanghai line will connect quantum networks in four cities. And this large-scale terrestrial effort now has a partner in space: A quantum science satellite was launched in August with a research mission that includes testing the distribution of keys well beyond the country’s borders.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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