Two Steps Closer to a Quantum Internet

Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance” can reach as far as low earth orbit, and twisted light could boost quantum communication bandwidth

4 min read
Two Steps Closer to a Quantum Internet
Laser Level: The green beam maintains alignment between sender and receiver stations located 143 kilometers
Photo: University of Vienna

In theory, the counterintuitive workings of quantum mechanics can guarantee that digital communications are utterly immune to prying eyes. That theory has advanced quickly, but the practice is now catching up, thanks to two developments by one of the field’s pioneers.

University of Vienna physicist Anton Zeilinger and his team realized the first teleportation of photons in 1997. Not to be confused with the stock-in-trade of Star Trek’s Montgomery Scott, teleportation is the instantaneous transfer of the properties of one particle to another distant one; it’s key to perhaps the most unassailable version of quantum communications. In November, Zeilinger and his team reported that they’d taken the process two important steps further.

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How the FCC Settles Radio-Spectrum Turf Wars

Remember the 5G-airport controversy? Here’s how such disputes play out

11 min read
This photo shows a man in the basket of a cherry picker working on an antenna as an airliner passes overhead.

The airline and cellular-phone industries have been at loggerheads over the possibility that 5G transmissions from antennas such as this one, located at Los Angeles International Airport, could interfere with the radar altimeters used in aircraft.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

You’ve no doubt seen the scary headlines: Will 5G Cause Planes to Crash? They appeared late last year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned that new 5G services from AT&T and Verizon might interfere with the radar altimeters that airplane pilots rely on to land safely. Not true, said AT&T and Verizon, with the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which had authorized 5G. The altimeters are safe, they maintained. Air travelers didn’t know what to believe.

Another recent FCC decision had also created a controversy about public safety: okaying Wi-Fi devices in a 6-gigahertz frequency band long used by point-to-point microwave systems to carry safety-critical data. The microwave operators predicted that the Wi-Fi devices would disrupt their systems; the Wi-Fi interests insisted they would not. (As an attorney, I represented a microwave-industry group in the ensuing legal dispute.)

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