The telecom industry is turning to quantum computing to overcome 5G and 6G bottlenecks

China Mobile technicians check a 5G base station in Tongling, Anhui province. [Photo by Guo Shining/for China Daily]

China Mobile, the world’s largest telecom operator with 900 million mobile subscribers, is exploring ways to unlock quantum computing to overcome computational bottlenecks in 5G and 6G technologies.

China Mobile’s research institute has signed a deal with Origin Quantum, a Chinese startup focused on quantum computing.

“This is the first cross-sectoral collaboration between quantum computing and the telecommunications industry in China, which has great value in exploring potential applications of quantum computing in big data and building and optimizing complex networks in the field of mobile communications,” said Guo Guoping, Professor of Quantum Computing at the University of Science and Technology of China and Chief Scientist at Origin Quantum.

Under the terms of the agreement, Origin Quantum, based in Hefei, Anhui province, will provide quantum communication algorithms based on verifications by its superconducting quantum computer, OriginQ Wuyuan, to help overcome the computational bottlenecks of 5G and 6G.

Cui Chunfeng, president of China Mobile Research Institute’s future research institute, said the 5G era has seen exponential growth in computer demand from signal processing, network optimization, big data analysis, image processing and other tasks. Conventional computer algorithms are finding it increasingly difficult to meet this need.

In the future, 6G will require even more computing power than 5G. It will be necessary to adopt new technologies such as quantum computing to solve this challenge, Cui said.

Quantum computers are widely regarded as one of the most disruptive technologies due to their ability to exploit the laws of quantum mechanics and solve calculations that are too complex for even the most powerful conventional supercomputers.

A quantum computer would take just 200 seconds to perform calculations that would take the fastest supercomputer about 10,000 years, said Dou Menghan, deputy director of the Anhui Quantum Computing Engineering Research Center.

Dou said comparing the processing power of a quantum computer to a conventional computer is like comparing a conventional computer to an abacus.

China Mobile’s Cui said, “We hope to explore the possibility of applying quantum computing to enable network optimization, network autonomy, network security and the metaverse, and we hope to solve the (computing) bottlenecks for the development of a future network.” .”

Founded in 2017, Origin Quantum ranks first in China and sixth in the world by the number of quantum computing invention patents filed, according to the latest Global Quantum Computing Technology Patent Filings Ranking List, published by innovation index researcher incoPat and intellectual property media IPR Daily in October.

Han Jian, head of the secretariat of the Quantum Computing Committee of the China Institute of Communications, said China has more than 1.3 billion phone users, and using quantum computing to process telecom data is a new area that is becoming a multi-billion-dollar market could grow up.

According to a report by global consulting firm McKinsey & Co., quantum computing will be conservatively valued at up to $700 billion by 2035 for industries like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, automotive and finance.

China said in its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) that it will accelerate breakthrough science and technological blueprints such as quantum computing and quantum communications.

Internationally, US technology companies such as Google, IBM and Microsoft are accelerating steps towards the development of quantum computing platforms. Chinese tech heavyweights like Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent have also entered the quantum computing sector.

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