The European Commission has selected a consortium of companies and research institutes to study the design of the future European quantum communication network, EuroQCI (quantum communication infrastructure). It will enable ultra-secure communication between critical infrastructures and government institutions across the European Union.
The European consortium led by Airbus is composed of Leonardo, Telespazio, Orange, PwC France and Maghreb, the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) and the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM).
The EuroQCI will integrate quantum technologies and systems into terrestrial fibre optic communication networks, and will include a space-based segment ensuring full coverage across the EU and other continents. Ultimately, this will enable secure Europe’s encryption systems and critical infrastructures such as government institutions, air traffic control, healthcare facilities, banks and power grids against current and future cyber threats.
Since June 2019, 26 Member States have signed the EuroQCI Declaration, agreeing to work together with the Commission, supported by the European Space Agency, towards the development of a quantum communication infrastructure covering the whole EU.
The long-term plan is for the EuroQCI to become the basis of a quantum internet in Europe, connecting quantum computers, simulators and sensors via quantum networks to distribute information and resources with a state of the art security method.
The first service to make use of it will be quantum key distribution (QKD). The QKD service will transmit encryption keys through quantum communication channels on both terrestrial fibre optic and space laser links. Using quantum photon states makes key distribution immune to vulnerabilities unlike the current methods.
The 15-month study will set out the details of the end-to-end system and design the terrestrial segment supporting the QKD service. It will develop a detailed implementation roadmap, including the cost and timeline of each implementation phase. In addition, the study will support the European Commission in designing an advanced QCI testing and validation infrastructure including standards. The objective is to run a EuroQCI demonstrator/pilot by 2024 and an initial operational service by 2027.
“The birth of the EuroQCI consortium sees Leonardo working with top-level partners on the planning of Europe’s future quantum network. An important step for the continent’s technological progress in this advanced high-priority area,” “The key element is the possibility of using quantum technologies to exchange encryption keys, guaranteeing complete communication security in management of vast quantities of data. An unrivalled technology that represents the future, not only in the field of telecommunications but in numerous other applications. The possibility of creating a European “Quantum Internet” in the future, permitting communication between quantum computers - which have greater calculation power and speed and extraordinarily accurate quantum sensors - will permit unprecedented analysis and forecasting on a global scale with total security. In this sector with vast potential, Leonardo’s know-how, valorised in a dedicated “Quantum” Laboratory in the Leonardo Labs network, will play a central role and have a tangible impact on the evolution of the business in multiple domains: from Cyber Security to Electronics for Defence and Space”.
Lucio Valerio Cioffi, General Manager of Leonardo.
“The Space segment will be a key element of the future global quantum network for delivery of secure communications in the European Union, and we’re very pleased that all this will be taking place in the EuroQCI consortium. The features of satellite solutions will guarantee rapid and effective connection in perfect security, even among sites which are very far apart. Telespazio’s role in the consortium centres around taking full advantage of these opportunities, ensuring correct integration of the terrestrial segment and the space segment, supported by identification of appropriate operative concepts”.
Marco Brancati, Telespazio’s SVP for Innovation and Technological Governance.