China is all set to put into commercial use its first "unhackable" communication network, based on quantum technology. The new ultra-safe communication system, which is expected to be impenetrable to hackers, will be launched in the city of Jinan, the capital of eastern China's Shandong province, by the end of next month.

The Jinan Institute of Quantum Technology on Sunday said that the newly developed quantum network would connect the Communist Party and government bodies in Jinan. The network underwent testing recently, with designers satisfied with its performance, especially because of its ability to provide extremely secure communications.

quantum communication
Quantum communication uses quantum entanglement of photons to secure the network between two parties exchanging secret messages.Creative Commons

The network will initially offer secure communication for nearly 200 users from the government, military, finance and electricity sectors. During the test, the information exchanges between two users was protected by more than 4,000 key generated in just a second, achieving "absolute secrecy," according to Zhou Fei, an assistant director at the institute.

"The reason why the first commercial quantum communication network is being used at Party and government offices is because those departments have a greater need to keep information safe. China doesn't want to follow the US and Russia in being hacked," Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times.

The launching of the quantum communication network for government purposes suggests that China is confident in its new technology, and is likely to implement it across all government departments soon. The network, which currently encrypts only text, is expected to eventually encrypt and transmit both audio and video files.

Quantum communication uses quantum entanglement of photons to secure the network between two parties exchanging secret messages. Any attempt to intercept the information by a third party inevitably corrupts the signal, which ultimately alerts the network.

Jinan conducted a pilot run of the quantum communication network in 2012, providing services for up to 50 users, who were spread across several hundred square kilometres.

quantum-enabled satellite Micius
The entangled photons were distributed from the world's first quantum-enabled satellite called Micius.(GRAPHIC) C. BICKEL/SCIENCE; (DATA) JIAN-WEI PAN

China announced last month that its scientists managed to transmit "entangled" photons over long distances from space to Earth, in what was seen as a landmark experiment in quantum communication. The scientists did that with the help of the world's first quantum satellite Micius, which was launched in August 2016.