Italy’s TIM has become the first European mobile operator to use quantum computing on its network, using the technology to optimise its radio cell planning.

Whereas classical computing architectures store information in binary (1 or 0) bits, quantum computing uses subatomic particles’ ability to exist in multiple states at the same time.

This means quantum computers can store significantly more information and compute issues much more quickly.

Quantum computing in telecoms

TIM has used a QUBO (quadratic unconstrained binary optimisation) algorithmic model to plan its 4G and 5G network parameters, performing the task ten times faster than conventional methods. This optimisation increases the reliability and performance of its mobile network.

Specifically, the more effective planning of cell IDs that allow smartphones to distinguish between different radio cells will improve the quality of Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) calls by allowing customers to switch between cells more effectively.

This configuration can be done in real time thanks to TIM’s Self Organising Network (SON) technology.

Quantum computing has huge implications for the financial, military and healthcare sectors among others, with research as it can expediate research projects. However, this increase in computing power is tempered by fears that it could render most encryption measures obsolete.

In the UK, the UK Ultra-Secure Quantum Network Link (UKQNTEL) connects BT’s Adastral Park R&D facility in Suffolk and the University of Cambridge and links to the wider UK Quantum Network (UKQN) – a collaboration between industry and academia. It is hoped the link will accelerate British-based efforts to develop quantum technologies.