EU launches Nostradamus and prepares Europe for a quantum world
January 2024 by Marc Jacob
Europe is giving the go-ahead for the next technological leap for secure digitalization. The European Commission has commissioned a consortium (“Nostradamus”) led by Deutsche Telekom to build the testing infrastructure for quantum key distribution (QKD). This will enable the evaluation of European manufacturers’ QKD devices. Partners in the consortium are Thales, global leader in advanced technologies, the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, as well as experts from across industry and academia. This paves the way for the implementation of EuroQCI – a highly secure pan-European communication network based on quantum technology. The governments of all EU member states and their citizens stand to benefit from more secure critical infrastructure.
The goal is the development of European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI). It is intended to provide more security for data centers, communications networks and critical infrastructure such as hospitals and power plants – via fiber optics and satellite. Quantum physics provides additional protection against new threats for today’s communication networks. The use of quantum technology is a key pillar of the EU’s strategy for cyber security in the coming decades.
EU satellite transmission to rely on quantum technology
The future encrypted EU satellite network IRIS2 (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite) also relies on EuroQCI. It is intended to provide governments with communication services and network critical infrastructure. In future, IRIS2 will also provide companies and organizations with fast satellite internet. After Galileo for navigation and Copernicus for earth observation, IRIS2 is the third pillar of the EU’s space infrastructure. The EU gave the green light for IRIS2 last year. The first services are due to be launched this year. Full operation is planned for 2027.
Daniela Theisinger, Managing Director of Deutsche Telekom Global Business Belgium, explains: “Nostradamus exemplifies Deutsche Telekom’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of digital security. This collaborative effort not only enhances European cybersecurity but also underscores the importance of strategic partnerships in advancing technological resilience.”
Joan Mazenc, Head of Thales ITSEF (IT Security Evaluation Facility), says: “Thales is particularly proud to contribute to the protection of the EU communications networks and infrastructure. As a leader in advanced technologies, the Group is determined to develop an attack laboratory aimed at responding to quantum threats. This laboratory will identify methods for evaluating ground-based quantum key devices, based on fiber optic technology.”
Helmut Leopold, Head of Center for Digital Safety & Security at AIT, explains: “In addition to the quantum technology know-how at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, a high level of expertise is required to test and verify new and innovative products, processes and tools. This demands a close collaboration between research and industry and a fundamental understanding of quantum encryption and IT security. We are proud to bring together world-leading expertise to pave the way for the market introduction of advanced security products to support Europe’s digital sovereignty.”
About Quantum Key Distribution
Quantum Key Distribution uses the principles of quantum mechanics to secure communication. The keys for decoding information are sent using single photons (quantum light particles). Any attempt to intercept these photons leaves traces in their physical state and can be used to indicate possible eavesdropping. This technology ensures fundamentally secure data exchange. QKD represents the pinnacle of cyber security.