• Posted 09-Dec-2019

Nine more countries join initiative to explore quantum communication for Europe

Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, France, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Finland have agreed to work with ten other EU countries towards the development of a quantum communication infrastructure (QCI) across Europe.

They have signed the declaration of cooperation launched in June 2019. Its signatories will explore together, with the European Commission and with the support of the European Space Agency, the development and deployment within the next ten years of a European QCI. It would ultimately link sensitive public and private communication assets all over the EU, using quantum technologies to ensure the secure transmission and storage of important information. This is especially important as developments in quantum computing itself will eventually make it possible to access data encrypted using current technologies – however, the QCI would be able to shield national and cross-border critical information infrastructure against eavesdropping. It would secure sensitive governmental communications, financial transactions and the long-term storage of sensitive data in areas like health, national security and defence.  Other major regions of the world are investing in similar infrastructure.

Europe’s quantum industry has also expressed its strong support for a QCI for Europe in a recent white paper so far signed by representatives of 24 major European companies that manufacture quantum technology products and systems. They stress its potential benefits for Europe’s security and freedom from any attempts to access sensitive government or personal data unlawfully, and for its technological and economic growth.

The QCI would be made up of two elements: one based on earth, making use of existing fibre communication networks linking strategic sites throughout the EU, and the other based in space, to enable coverage of long distances across the EU and other continents.

The plan is for the signatory countries to complete their preliminary work by the end of 2020. OPENQKD, a pilot project funded by the Commission and set to run for three years, is already underway. Its goal is to develop an experimental testbed using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), an extremely secure form of encryption that has the potential to keep telecommunications, health care, electricity supplies and government services safe from cyber-attacks. Once the QCI is operational in Europe, QKD would be the first service to make use of it.

The space-based component of the QCI would be developed in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and consist of satellite quantum communication systems with terrestrial reach. On November 28 2019, the ESA’s member countries committed to supporting its ‘Space Systems for Safety and Security’ programme, which includes the QCI’s space-based component.

Source: Digital Single Market News (http://bit.ly/34UNSqa)