(Optics.org.news) The European Commission has named a consortium of companies and research institutes for a project to investigate the design of the future European quantum communication network, known as EuroQCI (quantum communication infrastructure). The aim is to enable ultra-secure communication between critical infrastructures and government institutions across the European Union.
The European consortium led by Airbus comprises Leonardo, Orange, PwC France and Maghreb, Telespazio (a Leonardo and Thales 67/33 joint venture), alongside Italy’s Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) and Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM).
The launch statement says that EuroQCI “will integrate quantum technologies and systems into terrestrial fiber 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 EU 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.