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First intergovernmental quantum communication

Published on August 5th, 2021
intergovernmental quantum communication

The University of Trieste and the National Institute of Optics of the CNR gave the first public demonstration of intergovernmental quantum communication during the G20, a significant step in the frame of the EuroQCI.

Quantum communication meets the need for secure communications, a priority for all governments worldwide. This technology achieves higher security levels thanks to the special functioning of the encrypted quantum access ‘keys’, which are only available to those involved in the communication. Quantum keys are sequences of random numbers that are generated remotely through the exchange of photons. If a hacker attempts to intercept this key, they immediately leave a trace that allows the intrusion to be detected and immediate action to be taken against any threats to confidentiality during the exchange of audio and video messages.

During the Digital Ministers’ Meeting of the G20, celebrated on August 5th in Trieste, an encrypted audio-video communication was established with the Ministers of Slovenia and Croatia using quantum technology. This was the first public demonstration of intergovernmental quantum communication between Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia. This is the first quantum transmission between three nodes (Trieste, Ljubljana and Rijeka) situated at 50 and 80 km crow-fly. It takes relevance in the frame of the future EuroQCI, the EU quantum communication infrastructure initiative that will safeguard sensitive data and critical infrastructures by integrating quantum-based systems into existing communication infrastructures, providing an additional security layer based on quantum physics.

“Today we are laying the foundation stone, so to speak, of new European construction”, explains the president of the European Quantum Community Network, Tommaso Calarco. “The crowning achievement of the research carried out during the first phase of the Quantum Flagship is offering all European citizens an infrastructure to protect the privacy of their data with unprecedented security, guaranteed by the laws of nature.”

A three-node demonstration: Italy, Croatia and Slovenia

The demonstration was organised by Prof. Angelo Bassi of the Physics Department of the University of Trieste and the Quantum Communications group of the National Institute of Optics (CNR-INO) led by Dr Alessandro Zavatta in the framework of the ‘Quantum FVG’ project funded by the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. The technical implementation was carried out with the help from Davide Bacco, of the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and from the Italian quantum telecommunication farm QTI – born as a spin-off of CNR – with the support of  TIM and Sparkle, that provided the fibre optic cables, and Lightnet.

Researchers from the University of Trieste Alessandro Zavata (left) and Angelo Bassi (right)

On the Croatian side, the 100.5-kilometre long quantum link between Trieste and Rijeka (in Croatia) was extended from Rijeka to the Croatian capital Zagreb via a quantum-enhanced communication, a first public demonstration of that kind, enabled by the collaboration between Croatian academia and industry.

For Slovenia, Prof. Rainer Kaltenbaek and Anton Ramsak from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of the University of Ljubljana participated in the organization, with the technical support of Telekom Slovenije. For Croatia, Prof. Mario Stipčević and Martin Lončarić from the Ruder Bošković Institute in Zagrabria participated, with the technical support of OIV and Stelkom.

Martin Lončarić (right) and Mario Stipčević (left), researchers from the from the Ruder Bošković Institute

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