This week nine more European countries have signed onto a plan to establish a quantum communication infrastructure across Europe. The system will link sensitive public and private communication systems using emerging quantum technologies that provide the highest levels of security.
The plan is to integrate quantum technologies and systems into the current conventional communication infrastructures, allowing information and data to be stored or transmitted securely across Europe. To do this the EU will make use of existing fibre communication networks, as well as the growing space-based communication systems developed by the European Space Agency.
Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for internal market commented in a release that: “This project is critical to the EU’s technological sovereignty and to prepare the next generation of communications security with quantum-safe encryption, building on quantum entanglement properties. Cooperation at European level will be paramount for the EU to thrive as a global competitor in quantum technologies.”
In classical computer science a bit has two states, 1 or 0, it is always one or the other, never both. However, subatomic particles can exist in more than one state, a phenomenon often referred to as quantum entanglement. Quantum computing takes advantage of this.
In theory – because quantum computers can also process multiple values simultaneously – this makes quantum computers infinitely more powerful than any supercomputer. They remain error-prone, hard to scale and require novel mathematical schemes to compensate for external “noise” however.
Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, France, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Finland are the newest members entering into agreement that will see them work with ten EU states to establish a quantum communication infrastructure across Europe.
Quantum Communication Infrastructure
The project was officially launched in June of 2019, when Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and Spain signed a declaration that commits them over the next 12 months into exploring how to develop and deploy a quantum communication infrastructure across Europe.
A European industry white paper recently highlighted the benefits of this infrastructure as it notes that: “One of the main features of Quantum Communications is that any eavesdropping on a communication line is detectable by the laws of quantum physics. This means that an entity that masters this technology is able to communicate in a controlled concealed way from any other actor.”
“Quantum cryptography allows a new way to secure communication against eavesdropping/wire-tapping, in a way that is advantageous with respect to current solutions and is future-proof for data storage.”
UK National Quantum Computing Centre
Last year the UK government committed £235 million in funding towards the establishment of a National Quantum Computing Centre. The Centre will be delivered by the UK Research and Innovation body which works in collaboration with industry and universities.
In a statement released last year former Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright commented that: “The new National Quantum Computing Centre will allow businesses and universities to pave the way for the development of this emerging technology in the UK and help solve problems today’s computers are unable to address.”
“With this new funding for the National Quantum Technology Programme, alongside Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund commitments, we are extremely well placed to realise the commercial and social benefits of this groundbreaking innovation.”