Social media users ‘found’ Russia’s new quantum encryption telephone on Amazon for 2263 times less than the list price. What's the difference?
On May 28, the technology company Infotecs and the Center for Quantum Technologies at Moscow State University presented a new telephone called the ViPNet QSS Phone, Russia’s first model to use quantum encryption technology. 700 million rubles ($10.8 million) in total were invested in the phone’s development, of which Russia’s Science and Education Ministry contributed 140 million rubles ($2.2 million). The basic equipment set for the device, which consists of one server and two telephones, will reportedly cost 30 million rubles ($461,400).
Social media users noticed that the American company Grandstram sells a device on Amazon that looks identical to the one displayed in Infotecs’s presentation but costs $204. A series of Russian media sites, including TJournal, Daily Storm, and BUSINESS Online, published news stories about the find.
On May 30, Infotecs explained to the radio station Govorit Moskva that the two devices are only identical in appearance. The company’s representatives said that during the demonstration, they really had used a handset purchased from a third-party developer, but the handset has nothing to do with quantum encryption. The technology that distinguishes the company’s new model could have been connected to a range of handsets.
“The quantum keys for traffic encryption are not created in the telephone itself; they are generated between the ViPNet QSS Client and the ViPNet QSS Server, which are optically connected through the ViPNet QSS Switch commutator system. These are the components of the system […] that are most costly and most unique,” Infotecs representatives said.
Mass production of Russia’s first quantum encryption telephone system is scheduled to begin at the end of 2019.