China Telecom reportedly building $434 million quantum computing unit

Flying Through Emerging Digital Structures - Blue, Loopable - Data Network, Virtual Reality, Quantum Computing

Chinese Telco China Telecom is dropping some cash on a new quantum computing division, according to a report.

China Telecom has dropped 3 billion yuan ($434 million) to set up China Telecom Quantum Information Technology Group according to Reuters, quoting a statement on its WeChat account. There doesn’t appear to be anything in terms of a press release.

The division will be based in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, and will unsurprisingly be tasked with developing quantum technology. The statement reads: “[This] is a practical action to thoroughly study and implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important instructions on the development of quantum technology.”

Quantum computing is usually described as something like the next step change in computational power, and while it is early days and reliability and functionality remains limited, it’s certainly more than academia at this point. And many telcos are looking to position themselves in the middle of the burgeoning sector.

Vodafone and IBM are working together looking at not just the potential benefits it might bring – which are often cited as being able to cure diseases, sort out complicated economic conundrums, and otherwise used to solve very complicated problems – but also protect against the threats of what could happen should it get into the wrong hands.

BT recently came out with a statement that quantum computing is going to bring about profound changes both to telecoms and wider society, as it detailed the projects it is working on in the nascent space.

Deutsche Telekom’s IT arm T-Systems meanwhile announced in March that it is on a mission to lower the barriers to quantum computing, offering customers cloud-based access to IBM’s Eagle processor, which is apparently the most powerful quantum processor to date.

Also in March, Ericsson teamed up with the University of Ottawa and the Université de Sherbrooke to establish a new Quantum research hub in Montreal, which will develop quantum-based algorithms for accelerating processing in telecom networks and distributed quantum computing.

So the fact Chinese telco firms are looking to get in on the quantum act as well isn’t surprising – certainly in the contexts of the ongoing trade-war between China and the US that looks increasingly likely to create a gulf between East and West technological research.

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