- RHEA System Luxembourg S.A., POST Luxembourg, HITEC Luxembourg, the University of Luxembourg’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT), evolutionQ Inc. and SpeQtral Pte Ltd join forces to execute international next-generation cybersecurity project on End-to-End International Use Cases for Operational QKD Applications and Services (INT-UQKD).
- The 3-year partnership programme, supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), will demonstrate the end-to-end applicability of quantum key distribution (QKD) to secure operational business applications.
- The project’s five pilot use case demonstrations will cover three continents and will make use of hybrid ground-satellite QKD channels.
Starting this month, RHEA System Luxembourg is leading a 3-year programme to develop and demonstrate international use cases for quantum key distribution (QKD) in operational IT environments. Supported by ESA, the INT-UQKD programme will use hybrid space and terrestrial fibre networks to field a testbed capability, deploying five pilot use case demonstrations between sites in Luxembourg, Belgium, Singapore, Canada and the UK.
RHEA System Luxembourg will manage the INT-UQKD project and act as system integrator, working with POST Luxembourg, the University of Luxembourg’s SnT, HITEC Luxembourg, evolutionQ (Canada) and SpeQtral (Singapore). The project is being funded through ESA’s ARTES programme and by Singapore’s Office for Space Technology & Industry.
QKD technology is expected to be the next major step in provision of cyber-secured connectivity and end-to-end applications, with the efficacy of traditional cryptographic techniques being threatened by the emergence of quantum computing. The use of quantum keys makes it possible to verify the integrity of digital communications, but requires specially equipped fibre networks and hybrid satellite-terrestrial networks for long-distance communications. While major investments are being made in Europe in QKD satellite infrastructure, the INT-UQKD project will, through this ESA Partnership Programme, focus on demonstrating the operational applicability of end-to-end QKD systems to secure existing international applications. INT-UQKD will use the SpeQtral-1 satellite, due to be launched in 2024, as an early-available QKD space segment; it will then extend to other satellites for proving broad QKD compatibility.
Pascal Rogiest, RHEA Group Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Director of RHEA System Luxembourg, said: “RHEA’s long-standing expertise in project management and systems integration in both space and cybersecurity will enable us to effectively manage this ambitious undertaking that encompasses both sectors. We are proud to have initiated the INT-UQKD programme with our industrial partners focused on operations, and to have been trusted to lead it. We look forward to developing our own capabilities as we work in collaboration with those project partners from Europe, Canada and Singapore, and with ESA. We are convinced that INT-UQKD brings a much-needed demonstration of the actual use cases of quantum communication infrastructure.”
The overall INT-UQKD project will include the definition, justification and validation of focussed use cases to guide future ESA and European development of QKD solutions, serving European Union (EU) aspirations of digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy. Creating real-life operational demonstrations will help with assessment of technology and security compliance, and with identification of future policy requirements.
Elodie Viau, Director, Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, ESA, said: “The INT-UQKD programme will serve as a contribution and practical element to develop our capabilities in the field of quantum key distribution. It complements our major projects that we are involved in with the EU and within our European programmes for safety and security. Cooperating with the industry and internationally is important because it helps us to develop QKD solutions that respond to real-life requirements and allows us to go to market with viable business and commercial proposals.”
This article was first published on 26 September by University of Luxembourg.