(Optics.org) A major deployment of quantum key distribution (QKD) technology is imminent in Europe, thanks to an €18 million project intended to create a series of open testbeds serving as a precursor to a pan-European network.
The “OPENQKD” effort, supported by €15 million from the European Commission and €3 million from the 38 partners involved, will set up a central QKD testbed in Geneva, Switzerland.
QKD equipment specialists ID Quantique in Switzerland, and UK-based Toshiba Research Europe, while the Austrian Institute of Technology in Vienna is coordinating the three-year effort.
Other photonics technology firms involved include Israel-based Mellanox and Germany’s Adva Optical, while major European telecoms companies BT, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Telefonica are also taking part.
The project will create an open QKD testbed to promote network functionality and use-cases to potential end-users and relevant stakeholders from research and industry, states the factsheet.
More than 25 use-case trials have already been determined, and the project also aims to develop an “innovation ecosystem and training ground” to help grow the technology and necessary supply chains for quantum communication technologies and services.
Alongside the Geneva testbed, OPENQKD will feature similar efforts in Cambridge, Madrid, and Poznan, as the technology is deployed along more than 1000 kilometers of optical fiber links.
As well as serving as a precursor to the envisaged future pan-European network, partly by developing a “virtual network” linking the four QKD testbeds, the project will aim to test compatibility with satellite-based schemes.

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