ICFO hosts the meeting on EuroQCI-Spain’s deployment

Last week, consortium partners from ICFO, UPM, CSIC, Telefonica, Indra, Tecnobit (Grupo Oesia), and Cellnex Telecom gathered in Barcelona to work on the progress of EuroQCI-Spain, a project aimed at deploying a secure quantum communication infrastructure, firstly in Madrid and Barcelona, and then to other cities of the state.  They came together to discuss the established strategies of the project, mainly on the design of different architectures, on how to deploy the inter and intra city networks, and define the roadmap for the upcoming months.

EuroQCI-Spain is one of the 26 pieces of the continental-wide puzzle that Europe is putting together, known as the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI), with the sole idea of providing European regions with quantum technologies, enabling a digital sovereignty and industrial competitiveness for the region at a worldwide level, as well as helping to meet Europe’s Digital Decade target of being at the cutting edge of quantum capabilities by 2030.

Birth of EuroQCI

In 2018, the European Commission launched an ambitious program called the Quantum Flagship, which had the main goal of carrying out pioneering research in quantum technologies in different applied areas. In the prepping of this pan-European initiative and overseeing the worldwide context within this field, the commission also envisioned a parallel deployment program, which they coined EuroQCI.

Launched in 2019 via the EuroQCI Declaration, and signed by all 27 EU Member States, the EuroQCI initiative has the long-term goal of building a secure quantum communication infrastructure that covers the entire European Union, including its overseas territories. Its main purpose is to protect sensitive data and critical infrastructures by integrating quantum-based systems into existing telecommunication networks, providing an additional security layer that is actually quantum physics based. By this, it guarantees ultra-secure communications between European entities, such as governmental institutions, data centres, hospitals, energy stations, among others, becoming one of the main pillars of the EU’s Cybersecurity Strategy for the coming decades.

“Quantum technologies are becoming a game changer in Europe’s Digital program for the future. Ensuring the security of our sensitive information is of crucial importance and we are convinced that quantum cryptography technology will provide that functionality and this will enable secure connectivity for the whole Europe”.

National Quantum Initiatives

In trying to adequately map the EuroQCI roadmap and carry out a smooth, continuous and efficient deployment of this quantum communication network all over Europe, the EU decided to approach the challenge of deployment through a down-top or small-big tactic, by commencing with the national deployment of this infrastructure in each member state of Europe and then fully integrating and connecting these national systems from each member state, into a huge European connected network.

Coordinated by ICREA Prof. at ICFO Valerio Pruneri and Prof. Vicente Martín from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, the recently launched EuroQCI-Spain consortium includes quantum experts from ICFO, UPM and CSIC, as academic entities, and relevant companies such as Telefónica, Indra, Cellnex Telecom and Tecnobit (Grupo Oesia).

The consortium will carry out the design and deployment of this technology. Firstly, it aims to design a preliminary national architecture of EuroQCI in Spain, starting from the nodes in the metropolitan areas of the cities of Barcelona and Madrid, which later extending this technology to other cities within Spain.

Secondly, it will seek to deploy these quantum cryptography systems through different route configurations both, at an inter and intra city level, and utilize Quantum Key Distribution techniques to demonstrate this addition layer of security in the communications as well as verify their proper functioning.

Thirdly, it will assess the feasibility of using free-space and long-distance quantum communication networks compatible with expected the EuroQCI architecture, for the future preparation of going transnational to connect cities from different countries in Europe.

Finally, it will promote collaborative efforts and synergies in the design and execution the EuroQCI system architecture and ecosystem, making the infrastructure available to public entities, as a first step, and then consequently, extending this service to the private sector.

The program EuroQCI in Spain has already started designing the inter and intra city routes and working on all the specifications and requirements needed, at a hardware and software level, to overcome the current technological necessities for a proper deployment and testing of specific use cases between the cities of Barcelona and Madrid.

As coordinator Valerio Pruneri states, “Quantum technologies are becoming a game changer in Europe’s Digital program for the future. Ensuring the security of our sensitive information is of crucial importance and we are convinced that quantum cryptography technology will provide that functionality and this will enable secure connectivity for the whole Europe”.

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Other links

Petrus – CSA of the EuroQCI