Chattanooga Boasts Nation's 1st Commercially Available Quantum Network

  • Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Senator Bob Corker
Senator Bob Corker

Building on a joint project to run quantum cybersecurity technologies, EPB and Qubitekk have joined together to launch America’s first industry-led, commercially available quantum network in Chattanooga, officials said Wednesday.

The network is designed for private companies as well as government and university researchers to run quantum equipment and applications in an established fiber optic environment.

David Wade, EPB president and CEO, said entrepreneurs from around the country are invited to come to Chattanooga to save up their own projects on the new fully prepared grid.

Officials said, "Quantum technologies represent a new frontier to exponentially advance cybersecurity, sensing and next generation computing. This holds the promise for revolutionary benefits in protecting people from cyberthreats, launching a next generation internet and developing new advancements in healthcare, finance and other industries.'

EPB Board Chair Vicky Gregg described how the project "addresses a critical national priority while also aligning with EPB’s commitment to economic development in the Chattanooga area it serves." She said, “With the growing global focus on the potential for quantum technologies to solve problems that would require decades of conventional computer processing, both U.S. companies and the federal government are investing billions of dollars in this emerging sector. EPB Quantum Network gives Chattanooga the opportunity to attract new investment while accelerating breakthroughs that could make a real difference for our community and the nation as a whole.”

Mr. Wade likened the establishment of EPB Quantum Network to the deployment of Chattanooga’s fiber optic network and the launch of America’s first community-wide Gig-speed internet service. “When EPB announced ‘The Gig,’ everyone was asking what do you do with that much internet speed?” Wade said. “Since then, Gig-speed internet has served as a platform for innovation in opening up new opportunities for increased productivity, remote work, education, telehealth, entertainment and more. EPB Quantum Network is our step in opening up new vistas of possibility.”

Quantum-based communications reproduce a naturally occurring phenomenon in which a pair of light particles (photons) can be linked or “entangled” such that any change in one of the photons is instantaneously mirrored by its twin even when they are separated by great distances, it was stated.

EPB’s primary partner in the project is Qubitekk, America’s foremost leader in designing, building and integrating the components for quantum networks, a precursor to the future development of the quantum-enabled internet. EPB Quantum Network is equipped with Qubitekk’s Bohr IV, a proprietary quantum networking system that generates, transmits and measures qubits.

“If U.S. companies and researchers continue to develop quantum technologies in isolation, they face barriers such as the cost and time necessary to put together an end-to-end solution instead of focusing on their particular piece of the puzzle,” said Dr. Duncan Earl, president and CTO of Qubitekk, Inc. “EPB Quantum Network powered by Qubitekk is purpose-built infrastructure that allows quantum technologists to run their solution collaboratively with other technologies while retaining their proprietary data and intellectual property.”

Bob Corker, former United States senator and former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, emphasized the value of market-based solutions. “This is really a question of maintaining the global competitiveness of the United States,” he said. “As a country, it is critical for us to accelerate the development of quantum technologies to ensure our national cybersecurity and maintain America’s leadership position in the world. EPB Quantum Network is a critical resource for lowering the barriers to entry for private companies, so we can move quantum technologies into real-world application.”

The foundation for EPB Quantum Network builds on an R&D 100 award-winning effort that began more than five years ago. With U.S. Department of Energy funding aimed at securing America’s electric grid against cyberthreats, EPB, Qubitekk, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory partnered in 2021 to run quantum encryption technologies across real-world fiber optic loops that EPB established between some of its electric substations. As a result of the expertise EPB and Qubitekk gained through this earlier work and the technical breakthroughs they achieved, EPB Quantum Network is a comprehensive quantum network solution, officials said.

“This project shows how our effort to build partnerships among Oak Ridge National Laboratory, EPB and other technology-focused companies and organizations across the Tennessee Valley Technology Corridor can translate cutting-edge science into marketplace solutions,” said Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.

“In Chattanooga, EPB’s unparalleled community-wide fiber optic network has already helped generate nearly $2.7 billion in economic benefits — including more than 9,500 jobs — since it was completed more than a decade ago,” said Mayor Tim Kelly. “Plain and simple, EPB is one of Chattanooga’s greatest competitive advantages, and we have a real opportunity to build on that success. EPB Quantum Network will once again position Chattanooga as an innovative leader in an emerging sector that will be vital to our national economy in the months and years ahead."

“In Hamilton County, we’re focused on working together to offer an ideal business environment for companies ranging from start-ups to well-established enterprises,” said Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp. “The quantum future of Hamilton County is going to open up incredible opportunities for us to develop the most dynamic workforce in the South.”

According to Dr. Steven Angle, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), EPB Quantum Network also represents an opportunity for academic researchers and workforce development. “We’re proud to locate one of the EPB Quantum Network nodes on our campus,” said Chancellor Angle. “We’re also working to help EPB build out a quantum ecology to support new business investment. At the same time, we’re adding to our quantum physics faculty and building a curriculum to prepare a workforce for quantum companies. UTC will also serve as a gateway for building partnerships with other universities across the nation.”

EPB and Qubitekk are already utilizing EPB Quantum Network to share quantum states between two Quantum Equipment Hubs over a commercial fiber optic network. By summer 2023, the team will establish additional Quantum Nodes where subscribers can install their own quantum equipment. This will allow private companies, government agencies and academic researchers to use the quantum-as-a-service offering. EPB Quantum Network is reconfigurable for different needs using Qubitekk’s Bohr IV quantum networking system, which integrates foundational quantum network technologies including:

· Photonic qubit sources

· Four parallel qubit channels

· Single photon counting detectors

· Quantum-compatible fiber optic switches

· Integrated automatic polarization control

· Flexible, software-defined network architecture

· Dedicated fiber optic lines for distributing qubits

· Precision timing

Officials said, "Because EPB’s network spans the Chattanooga area with more than 3,750 cable miles of distribution fiber optics, EPB Quantum Network is easily scalable. In addition, EPB’s fiber optic network has a dedicated fiber optic connection to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and multiple fiber optic transport lines to major internet hubs. EPB recently upgraded its core network to 100 gig capacity and is more than halfway through a five-year, $70 million system-wide upgrade to keep Chattanooga’s community-wide fiber optic network on the cutting edge. As a result of this investment, EPB recently launched America's first community-wide 25 Gig Internet service."

Companies and researchers interested in learning more about using EPB Quantum Network to accelerate their quantum technologies to market can learn more at EPBQuantumNetwork.com.

About Qubitekk

Qubitekk designs, builds and integrates the hardware and software for quantum networks, a precursor to the quantum-enabled internet while championing the growth of a robust quantum ecosystem through education, advocacy and collaboration.

Co-founded by Dr. Duncan Earl, a nationally recognized pioneer in the field of practical quantum applications, Qubitekk holds more patents than any American player in the quantum communications space and has been recognized with an Edison Gold Award and R&D World’s R&D 100 award.

The company’s growing list of partners and customers includes NASA, GE, Verizon, Juniper, Boeing, the United States Department of Energy and the United States Department of Defense. For more information, visit Qubitekk.com.

About EPB

EPB serves the people of the Chattanooga area with advanced smart city infrastructure to enable world-class energy and connectivity solutions that include the most resilient smart grid power distribution system in the United States and the fastest internet in the world. EPB gained national notice when it deployed a community-wide fiber optic network accessible to all its customers and used it to launch America’s first Gig-speed internet in 2010 (beating Google Fiber by 4 years) as well as the first community-wide 10 Gig internet service available as a standard offer to all residences and businesses in 2015. Most recently, EPB launched America's first community-wide 25 Gig internet service, future-proofing the network's capacity and keeping Chattanooga on the cutting edge.

EPB also utilized the fiber optic network as the communications backbone for deploying more than 200,000 smart switches, sensors and other devices to establish the most advanced and highly automated smart grid in the nation. As a result, the U.S. Department of Energy named EPB a living laboratory for pioneering smart grid technologies. Since then, EPB has partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and more than 20 other national research partners to play a critical role in more than $155 million in smart city research. EPB was also the first major power distribution utility to earn the GBCI’s PEER certification for having a highly automated, modernized electric power grid in 2015 and followed up in 2021 by re-certifying at PEER Gold.

EPB is an independent board of the City of Chattanooga which began serving customers in 1939. Visit epb.com for more information.

Here is the full statement by Mayor Kelly:

Thank you, David, and thank you all for being here to celebrate this important announcement - not just for Chattanooga, but for our entire country. As you’ve heard today, EPB’s Quantum Network has the potential to unlock advances in technology that were frankly unimaginable until now - in everything from healthcare, to finance, to cybersecurity. We’re quite literally on the precipice of a new technological frontier, and

I’m standing here today because once again, Chattanooga is at the forefront. Some folks less familiar with EPB and our city might find this surprising—Silicon Valley or even Austin, Texas, may seem like a more obvious place for this kind of technological revolution to grow its roots. But as mayor, I can honestly say that Chattanooga is the perfect place to launch the nation’s first industry-led, commercially-available quantum network for private companies and government and university researchers - and that’s not just because I think it’s a fantastic place to live (although I certainly do!) But we also have a long-standing history of harnessing the power of public-private partnerships to get big things done, things that push the envelope of what’s possible for a city.

As many of you know, we earned our Gig City moniker thanks to EPB’s first ever community-wide fiber optic network, which paved the way for us to provide the fastest community-wide internet service in the country at price points that are affordable for everyone. But that would never have been possible without Chattanooga’s strong culture of public-private collaboration and innovation. I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to fully quantify the tremendous positive impact EPB Fiber has had on Chattanooga over the last decade—in everything from quality of life to economic growth and prosperity. One recent analysis estimated that it’s generated nearly $2.7 billion in economic benefits for our community, including helping create more than 9,500 jobs and bringing an extra $244 million in new business ventures to our local economy. But what’s clear today is that this is just the tip of the spear when it comes to our full potential.

Beyond its uses for electricity and internet, our fiber optic network has also opened up substantial opportunities for local research and smart city applications. Our Smart Community Collaborative, for example, involves a partnership between EPB, the City, and 8 other local partners who have been tapping into the network’s smart grid technology to develop innovative solutions for everyday local issues like traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, air quality monitoring, and access to healthcare. And now, thanks to EPB’s continued vision and leadership, Chattanooga is once again positioned to lead—this time in an emerging sector that will be vital to our national economy and perhaps our national security in the months and years ahead. Now, it almost goes without saying that for most of us, the field of quantum research sounds abstract and futuristic at best. But the reality is that governments and large-scale enterprises with the top minds from around the world are pouring billions of dollars into quantum research and development every year.

Quantum technologies are our future, just as 25 gig community-wide internet speeds were our future 10 years ago. And with the launch of the EPB Quantum Network, Chattanooga will be home to the infrastructure that will accelerate the development, adoption, and integration of quantum products worldwide. This is huge news—for our city, our region, and our nation—and on behalf of the City of Chattanooga, I am committed to ensuring this network has the resources and support it needs to thrive. The entire world will be watching what we’re doing here, and if we get this right (and I will do everything in my power to make sure we do), our region will have a real opportunity to become the nation’s next leading innovation and technology hub—with the potential for federal funding that would catalyze unprecedented levels of economic growth and create hundreds of new jobs in high-growth, high-wage sectors throughout the TN Valley Corridor. And it’s all thanks to the incredible partners who are here today, who saw a future of unimaginable possibilities and had the courage and grit to turn it into reality.

So, before I close, I want to be sure to recognize everyone who came together to make today possible.

? First and foremost, thank you to former U.S. Senator Bob Corker, whose vision during his tenure as Chattanooga mayor ignited the creation of EPB’s community-wide fiber optic network—the backbone of what we are here to celebrate today.

? Thank you also to Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and our entire congressional delegation for all they do to support Tennessee as a leader in the technology and innovation economy.

? To Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp, I’m grateful to have you and your team as partners as we chart this exciting new path for our community’s future.

? I also want to recognize Chancellor Steve Angle and the team at UTC for being an essential partner in piloting this network and helping build the future quantum workforce.

? And of course, the biggest thank you to the incredible teams at Qubitekk and EPB who brought this network to life. Dr. Earl, you and your team are building our quantum future, and I can’t thank you enough for choosing Chattanooga. And to David Wade, Vicky Gregg, and the amazing team at EPB—you are one of Chattanooga’s greatest competitive advantages, and I am incredibly grateful for all you have done and continue to do to make our city so special.

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