HEAnet partners to build a staging Quantum Communications Network in Ireland
In response to an EU Digital Europe Programme call for proposals to build a staging quantum communication network in each of the 27 EU countries, an Irish consortium, IrelandQCI was established. The IrelandQCI consortium is led by the Walton Institute in Waterford on behalf of CONNECT, the SFI research centre for Future Networks, and includes HEAnet and several HEAnet clients.
The total project funding for IrelandQCI is €10M, consisting of €5M from the EU Digital Europe Programme fund and €5M from the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications. The project started on the 1st of March and will run for a period of 30 months.
The project will involve integrating innovative quantum devices and systems into conventional communication networks. This will be accomplished by building a quantum communications network on dedicated fibres provided by ESB Telecoms parallel to the existing HEAnet backbone between Dublin, Waterford, and Cork. One of the first use cases that will be demonstrated in the use of quantum key distribution (QKD) over the quantum communications network to securely encrypt circuits on the HEAnet backbone network.
The project was officially launched by Minister Ossian Smyth in Waterford on the 24th of April. Following the official launch, the first face-to-face meeting of the project partners was held at the Faithlegg Hotel in Waterford. HEAnet Innovation, Research and Development Manager, Eoin Kenny, presented at the meeting along with other research partners and visiting international experts. The meeting discussed uses cases and potentially 16 different quantum security technology scenarios, which will be developed across the public sector as part of the pilot programme.
Quantum Key distribution has been shown to be secure against future quantum computer attacks, unlike existing public key encryption solutions. Quantum key distribution will contribute to ensuring that safe and secure communications for citizens and businesses will continue to be possible in a post quantum world, thus protecting essential services, such as hospitals, education centres, the transport industry, and public utilities.
The project includes a communications and outreach plan to educate the key stakeholders and the public about the importance of quantum technology through a series of lectures, training, and workshops.
IrelandQCI is one of 27 quantum communications staging networks being deployed as part of the EuroQCI project over the next 30 months. A follow up project will involve interconnecting these 27 national quantum communications networks. This will involve cross border fibre and quantum communications links, via the European Space Agencies Eagle-1 quantum communications satellite that will be launched in 2024.
The IrelandQCI consortium members are: South-East Technological University, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, Maynooth University, University of Galway, ESB Telecoms and GRnet (The Greek National Research and Education Network).