Quantum key distribution (QKD) is an emerging technology for secure distribution of keys between users linked by free-space or fiber optic transmission facilities. QKD has usually been designed for and operated over dedicated point-to-point links. However, the commercial world has been developing increasingly sophisticated fiber networks, with basic networking functions such as routing and multiplexing performed in the optical domain. One of the most important practical questions for the future of QKD is to what extent it can benefit from these trends, either to expand the capabilities of dedicated quantum networks, or to avoid the need for dedicated networks by combining quantum and conventional optical signals onto a single infrastructure.
In this paper, we report on systematic investigations of these issues using a 1310-nm weak-coherent, phase-encoded B92 prototype QKD system developed by Los Alamos that includes the implementation of error correction, privacy amplification, and authentication. We have demonstrated reconfigurability of QKD networks via optical switching and successful QKD operation in the presence of amplified DWDM signals over 10 km of fiber. We have identified anti-Stokes Raman scattering of the DWDM signals in the fiber as a dominant transmission impairment for QKD, and developed filtering architectures to extend transmission distances to at least 25 km. We have also measured noise backgrounds and polarization variations in network fibers to understand applicability to real-world networks. We will discuss the implications of our results for the choice of QKD wavelengths, wavelength-spacing between QKD and conventional channels, and QKD network architectures.