China is set to launch a new "unhackable" communications network built upon cutting-edge quantum cryptography, promising to revolutionise the process of encryption. State media said the city of Jinan will be "the first in the world" to use the secure technology in government.
Scientists claimed the network, which reportedly cost 120m yuan ($19.5m, £15m) to construct, will connect government offices in the city. Roughly 50 rounds of testing indicated it will be capable of encrypting more than 4,000 pieces of data every second, China Daily reported.
It will be used by 200 users across Jinan's government, finance and military departments, state media said. Experts from the Institute of Quantum Technology located in Jinan revealed the revolutionary network would be rolled out by August later this year.
Unlike the encryption of today, quantum-based networks send messages inserted into particles of light.
The "unhackable" claim comes from the fact that if anyone attempts to break into the network the particles will change and the message will be destroyed.
"We plan to use the network for national defence, finance and other fields, and hope to spread it out as a pilot that if successful, can be used across China and the whole world," said Zhou Fei, assistant director of Jinan Institute of Quantum Technology, as noted by the Financial Times.
It's not the first time China has invested in quantum tech. Last year it launched a "hack-proof" communications satellite, which was put on a two-year mission to help develop stronger communications at speeds "faster than light".
Many other nations have been reluctant to invest in such systems at scale, but why?
"For a long time people simply didn't think it was needed," Professor Myungshik Kim of Imperial College, London, told the BBC. "The mathematical difficulty of the current coding system was so high that it was not thought necessary to implement the new technology."
Now, it appears that China is leading the charge. "While nothing can truly be deemed as 'unhackable', new and radical approaches are very much needed to help secure technology and communications," said Javvad Malik, an expert at security firm AlienVault.
He added: "Having applications utilising technologies that make them more difficult to hack, or can detect quickly and reliably when a compromise has occurred is always a welcome addition – and one would hope to see such improvements in all new technologies and national infrastructure."
Andrew Clarke, director at security firm One Identity, said that the promise of quantum technology continued to be a "bright spot on the horizon".
He elaborated: "The latest experiments in China have adopted satellite systems and increased wavelengths to establish quantum cryptography links during the day.
"The concept behind the technology is that if there is any interference in the communication such as an attacker trying to steal an encryption key then the quantum mechanics theory indicates that the key would immediately change to prevent that from being successful.
"At this stage, the experiments involve point-to-point encrypted communication, but when extended could provide a new approach to wider communications between multiple trusted parties.
"It will require much more research; experimentation and investment to extend to wider use; boost transmission rates and distance. This is certainly a step in the right direction to address global security concerns concerning public internet use."