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EuroQCI Spain members exhibit a mini EuroQCI demonstration during the Presidency event of Sweden

On June 15th, Sweden took over the presidency of the European Council, and as part of its agenda, it co-organized the “Digital Assembly” event in Stockholm, together with the European Commission. With the aim of promoting an open, secure and digital Europe, the event sought to showcase different technological advances to underline a “Europe to be at the forefront of technology and develop a competitive digital single market based on a strong focus on cyber security during the Digital Decade”.

The Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), partner of QSNP, managed the network, providing the control a key management infrastructure during the entire event, and in collaboration with LuxQuanta – also partner of QSNP- and the Italian company QTI, they carried out a live demonstration of a quantum secure communication. The live video conference call was executed to recreate a mini version of the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) and showcase the level of maturity of quantum technologies for telecommunications. The ultra-secure video-call used the protocol of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) to enable a secure call between the parties and enable them to talk safely. This QKD technique encrypts the keys shared between the two parties using the principles of quantum mechanics, making an interception impossible without being detected.

For this demonstration to take place, the team used a hybrid classical and quantum network using remote connections to the quantum devices in Spain and Italy.

EuroQCI QKD Demo

Quantum Key Distribution Secures Communication at Digital Assembly

The quantum layer used LuxQuanta’s link in Barcelona and QTI’s link in Florencia to transport the keys using the QKD protocol and establish a secure channel for the nodes. Technicians introduced the keys into two crypto devices placed at the UPM in Madrid. With these quantum keys, the crypto devices generated an encrypted channel between two endpoints in the network – two in Stockholm and one in Stockholm and the other in Madrid. The team used the first for the on-stage demonstration, where Telsy held a live videoconference, and the second for the rest of the assembly, to show a continuous and stable connection in the communication.
UPM developed and supplied the SDN-based software for the network as well as the key management, including extracting the key from the quantum devices, created by LuxQuanta and QTI, and providing it to the encrypting devices. All these key exchanges followed the standards developed for the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). LuxQuanta, also part of the QSNP, provided one of the quantum links that generated the keys. Other companies that participated include Rohde and Schwartz, providers of the crypto devices, and Ericsson and KTH, who gave local logistic support.

As Vicente Martin, Principal Investigator of the Quantum Information and Computing Research group (GIICC), Director of the Center for Computing Simulation (UPM), and QSNP partner, explains, “All the technology used in this demonstration stems from projects within the Quantum Flagship, an ambitious program launched in 2018 for quantum technology R&D. This includes not only the visible technology but also the underlying components like Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs), crucial for functionality. Start-ups and spin-offs that developed these generators are also part of the European Flagship.”

Demonstration of Quantum Communication at Digital Assembly Attracts Wide Audience

More than 800 visitors, including politicians/policy makers and industry representatives, visited the booth, saw the mini-EuroQCI demo and gained an overview of what a quantum communication channel and video call actually looks like. The display featured both devices from LuxQuanta and QTI, as well as a complete quantum link from QTI. For most of the two-days conference, the quantum encrypted video-call between Stockholm and Madrid remained opened and active, mainly to show continuity, robustness and stability of the call. As part of the live demonstration, Vicente Martin, from UPM, and Sebastián Etcheverry, CTO of LuxQuanta, gave an overview to all the visitors present about how technology worked and what they saw on screen.

EuroQCI Spain

EuroQCI Spain members

Vicente Martin (beside Carme Artigas), and Juan Pedro Brito, from UPM, together with Sebastian Etcheverry, fom LuxQuanta, show the QKD setup to Carme Artigas, the Spanish Secretary of State for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence

“For this exhibition we were able to combine quantum technologies from five different companies, from three different European countries and display it in a fourth country. Putting everything together and making it work was a challenge. We considered it a huge success to show a large audience that quantum communications are real and can be deployed in complex environments” Martín concludes.

About DIGITAL ASSEMBLY

The European Commission and the spring presidency holder of the Council of the European Union co-host the Digital Assembly, a yearly event. This event serves as a forum to address key issues of the digital transition. In 2023, the Swedish presidency hosted the Digital Assembly at Scandinavian XPO from June 15-20th.

The Swedish Presidency designed a conference program that tackled current EU initiatives and ongoing debates on the conference theme. The conference showcased the status and potential of initiatives within the Digital Decade, the EU Cyber Security Strategy, and the Twin transitions.

The Swedish Presidency built upon related conversations held within the Troika, such as the Digital Assembly 2022 conference in Toulouse and the conference EU Secure and Innovative Digital Future held in Prague 2022. They aimed to stimulate the European discourse on the EU’s digital transition and cyber security by providing a platform for multistakeholder dialogue.

DA23 primarily targeted government officials, regulators, private sector representatives, and academia. They also approached non-governmental organizations to contribute their perspective on the topic. The organizers invited EU Commissioners and the Troika ministers in the European Union responsible for digital issues, as well as high-level business and public policy decision-makers.

By bringing together various stakeholders in a quad helix constellation, the project stimulated debate, collaboration, and innovation on the conference theme.

Quantum Key Distribution