SES-led consortium wins Europe’s Quantum plan
July 13, 2021
By Chris Forrester
An SES-led consortium is to develop the satellite/terrestrial infrastructure and roadmap for next-generation cybersecurity.
A statement from the consortium said: “The Luxembourg’s Quantum Communications Infrastructure project (LuxQCI), coordinated by the Department of Media, Telecommunications and Digital Policy (SMC) of the Luxembourg Ministry of State, and supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA) under the Luxembourg National LuxIMPULSE programme, will create a secure communications shield against cyber threats based on quantum technology. To design the LuxQCI, Luxembourg has put in place a consortium comprising InCert, itrust consulting, LuxConnect, LuxTrust and the University of Luxembourg (SnT), that is led by SES’s fully-owned affiliate SES Techcom.”
The statement continued: “One of the LuxQCI’s main functions will be to ensure quantum key distribution (QKD), an ultra-secure form of encryption that uses the principles of quantum mechanics. Enabled via satellites, QKD can secure confidential data, power grids, government communications and digital transactions, including against attacks by quantum computers. Once operational, LuxQCI will guarantee the security of digital transactions and of confidential information transfer over geographically dispersed areas. Early users of the infrastructure will be governmental and institutional authorities and business sectors requiring ultra-secure data transmission. QCI will ultimately evolve into a Quantum Internet, linking quantum processors and sensors and enabling an EU-wide distributed quantum computing and communication capability.”
The LuxQCI is an integral part of the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI), an initiative from the European Commission that was officially launched in June 2019, which represents a federation of all the national infrastructures of the 27 EU Member States. Luxembourg was among the first seven Member States that signed this declaration.
As the ultra-secure form of encryption is only possible via a combination of terrestrial and space networks, the cornerstone element for the next-generation cybersecurity LuxQCI will be developed by a consortium of renowned Luxembourg-based entities that combines the relevant expertise of the private sector, research and development community and public agencies. Luxembourg’s first national Quantum Communication Infrastructure will support the country’s ambitions within the EuroQCI strategy, resulting in a roadmap for its implementation, according to SES.
The LuxQCI project will include among other key objectives the design of the country’s national QCI, integrating both terrestrial and space-based Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) into an innovative hybrid Key Management System (hKMS). It will also plan for the integration of Luxembourg’s national QCI with other European QCI initiatives.
Xavier Bettel, prime minister and Luxembourg’s Minister for Communications and Media, commented: “The Recovery plan for Europe, which includes the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), aims at repairing the immediate economic and social damage brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Post-Covid-19 Europe will be greener, more digital, more resilient and better adapted to the current and forthcoming challenges. This pandemic has also clearly shown us the importance of digital technologies in our daily lives. One of the main projects in our Recovery and Resilience Plan is the QCI or Quantum Communication Infrastructure where SES, our European champion in satellite communications, collaborates with the research community and the local ecosystem in order to develop a next-generation, ultra-secure communication infrastructure.”