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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Announces the DC-based Quantum Network Research Consortium

On May 18th, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) announced the establishment of the Washington Metropolitan Quantum Network Research Consortium (DC-QNet), “to create, demonstrate and operate a quantum network as a regional testbed.”

The NRL will be collaborating with the following five government agencies to “stand up” the DC-QNet:

There are also two organizations outside the D.C. area affiliated with DC-QNet):

DC-QNet is launched in the shadow of the March announcement that the NATO cybersecurity center finished tests of a quantum-proof network and in response to the May White House National Security Memorandum on Promoting United States Leadership in Quantum Computing While Mitigating Risks to Vulnerable Cryptographic Systems and, specifically (as reported by, the recommendations of the “The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, or PCAST (reconstituted by executive order in October 2019) …and the Subcommittee on American Action Plan for Global Leadership in Industries of the Future”:

“…according to Subcommittee Chair Dario Gil, director of IBM Research…the subcommittee offered a set of recommendations for the federal government…’For instance, creating a national network of quantum computing user facilities. This would jumpstart quantum algorithm and application development and quantum computer science; make a critical scientific and computational resource available to scientists at U.S. national laboratories and universities, and serve as a market-making catalyst for accelerated growth in the U.S. industry producing quantum hardware and software.’

The framework for these facilities would be based on the High-Performance Computing, or HPC, user facilities established at the national labs, which offer researchers access to supercomputers.

‘These supported missions critical to our national security, advanced science and industry using novel approaches to computational modeling and simulation,’ Gil said. ‘The benefits have been deep and broad-based.’

In the same vein, the subcommittee suggested the government invest in a secure quantum network—a quantum internet—through which this research could grow.

‘Akin to the creation of ARPAnet in decades past—ultimately leading to the internet we have today—we should accelerate efforts to advance the science and infrastructure required to create a national quantum communications network, the foundation of a future quantum internet,’ Gil said.

That network would provide a common infrastructure for researchers across the country to collaborate. (1)

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Daniel Pereira is research director at OODA. He is a foresight strategist, creative technologist, and an information communication technology (ICT) and digital media researcher with 20+ years of experience directing public/private partnerships and strategic innovation initiatives.