Verizon staked a claim with what appeared to be the first US operator trial of a type of encryption known as Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) to protect user data, one in a series of tests aimed at bolstering network security.

Unlike number-based encryption methods used today, QKD creates keys based on the quantum properties of photons, making it much harder for even advanced computing systems to crack.

In the trial, Verizon said it used QKD to encrypt and send a video stream between its 5G Lab and two of its offices in Virginia and Washington DC. Though the test was conducted over its fibre network, a representative told Mobile World Live the operator is also aiming to use the technology in mobile.

Chief product development officer Nicola Palmer stated the test was part of an effort to “discover new ways to ensure safe networks and communications” for consumers and enterprises.

AT&T is also researching quantum computing and networking applications in partnership with the California Institute of Technology.

Verizon outlined additional work focused on 5G security, including tests of a system using AI and machine learning to detect anomalies in the network and analyse cell site performance; network accelerators to mitigate increases in latency caused by security functions; and a credential management system for connected vehicles.