The European Commission is launching a tender for a detailed system study for a quantum communication infrastructure. The study is part of the EuroQCI initiative, on which the Commission is currently working together with the European Space Agency and 24 Member States.

graphic showing concept of quantum computing with high speed binary numbers code

The purpose of this call for tender is to appoint two award contracts to conduct a study to provide the detailed design of the system architecture for a European quantum communication infrastructure, in compliance with user, system and security requirements. The study should include a detailed implementation roadmap, including the costs and timelines associated with each implementation phase. The architecture should be modular and scalable, to allow for the integration of future applications and technologies.

Background

Advances in quantum computing are challenging the basis of Europe’s information security, as in the coming decades they are likely to make today’s encryption standards obsolete and threaten the long-term security of sensitive data. 24 EU Member States have therefore committed to working together, with the European Commission (EC) and the European Space Agency (ESA), towards the development and deployment within the next ten years of a secure quantum communication infrastructure (EuroQCI) – to enable public administrations to transmit and store information and data ultra-securely, and to safeguard critical infrastructure and encryption system across the EU. It will integrate quantum cryptography and innovative and secure quantum products and systems into conventional communication infrastructures, enhancing them with an additional layer of security based on quantum physics.

The first service offered by the EuroQCI will be quantum key distribution (QKD), the distribution of quantum-secured encryption keys. This will be followed by other services such as digital signatures, authentication, and synchronisation of ultraprecise time signals, when these reach the necessary technological maturity level. In the long term, the EuroQCI infrastructure is envisaged as a key component of a future quantum internet, interconnecting quantum computers, simulators and sensors via quantum networks to distribute securely information and quantum resources all over Europe, in order to radically enhance their performance and enable a new technological revolution.

It is intended that the EuroQCI will span the whole EU (including its outlying territories), and consist of an integrated terrestrial infrastructure based on fibre networks (terrestrial segment) and a space infrastructure based on satellites (space segment). It will be the EU’s cybersecurity shield for the coming decades and, in order to preserve European sovereignty and autonomy, it will be built with European technology. In addition, the EuroQCI could be part of other relevant Commission initiatives: for example, by being linked to a global secure and resilient connectivity system now under preparation by the Commission’s services.

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