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Japanese scientists at the country's telecoms ministry are proposing to use quantum mechanics to transmit data across next-but-one-generation networks.

Quantum states are broadly analogous to the 1s and 0s of digital data. Right now, those binary bits are essentially transmitted as a waveform, with the peaks and troughs of the wave used to represent the 1s and 0s in the data stream.

But researchers from Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) believe that data can be sent more efficiently if it's encoded in the quantum states of electrons. In fact, the data can be sent practically instantaneously - and vast quantities of it at that. And because there's no wave to drive through your cables, they predict that quantum transmissions will require barely any power.

The researchers also claim the technology will make data transmissions undecipherable. If anyone attempts to read the data while it's being transmitted, the very act of observation will change the data rendering it useless to the observer.

Realising this scheme will take a lot of work, which why the MPT boffins are simply calling for quantum data transmission be earmarked as an area for further research. The MPT said yesterday it accepts their recommendations and will put their funding requests into practice between 2030 and 2100.

So don't expect all this groovy stuff to appear any day now. The technology will also require the successful construction of working quantum computers to act as transmission nodes on the network.

"Quantum-based communication technology is plausible, and our aim is to promote quantum information R&D so that it will be put into practical use," an MPT official told the Nikkei newswire. MPT will allocate some ¥40 billion to quantum data transmission research over the next ten years. ®

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