Leonardo is a key player in the QUID project that kicks off a quantum communication network in Italy

05 June 2023

The company, through the Leonardo Quantum Technology Lab and its joint ventures, Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space, is making an important technological contribution to the QUID project in the implementation of the Metropolitan Quantum Networks and their interconnection with the Italian Quantum Backbone.

The QUID (Quantum Italy Deployment) project, funded by the European Commission under the Digital Europe programme, will design and implement the future Italian network of the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI). The initiative aims to create a European quantum communication infrastructure that will integrate quantum technologies and systems into terrestrial fiber-optic communication networks, including a space segment, to ensure comprehensive coverage across the EU and other parts of the world.

Common objectives in the European context

The main goal of the project is to protect European critical infrastructures, such as government institutions, air traffic control, healthcare facilities, banks, and power grids, from cyber threats by providing a level of security against cyber risk that cannot be achieved with conventional technologies. In reality, only quantum tools have the capability to detect the presence of any malicious ‘eavesdroppers’ targeting communication channels.

The effects for Italy

Thanks to the QUID project, Italy will be able to count on the implementation of metropolitan quantum communication networks (QMANs), interconnected through the Italian Quantum Backbone, that covers parts of the country stretching from from Turin to Matera, passing through Rome Florence and Naples. In each QMAN, quantum key exchanges will be made between nodes using the Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) service.

Leonardo's contribution

Leonardo throught the QT (Quantum Technology) Lab, one of the 12 laboratories of the Leonardo Labs network, together with its joint ventures, Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space, is engaged, via QUID in developing the Quantum Metropolitan networks of Naples and Rome enabling their fiber-optic interconnection with the national backbone. This will allow in the first instance, the inclusion of the main southern areas around Naples area, while, in the second case, from the city of Rome, the connection with the industrial areas of L'Aquila and Telespazio's Fucino Space Centre, which will be the interface and connection infrastructure between the national network and the satellite component of EuroQCI. .

Leonardo's QT lab is also working on the realisation of free-space optical connections that will be added to fibre-optic connections to create dedicated links to strategic infrastructures (e.g., for the secure connection between Leonardo's headquarters and Thales Alenia Space in Rome). The presence among the project partners of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and Telespazio and the interconnection with the Space Geodesy Centre in Matera will enable interoperability within the space segment of a dedicated satellite constellation, again through free-space optical connections.

The QUID Consortium

QUID brings together leading Italian companies in the sector, the foremost research institutes involved in quantum communication, both for the ground and space segments, and universities involved in innovation and training. The consortium is led by the National Metrology Institute of Italy

(INRiM), and in addition to Leonardo, Thales Alenia Space Italia and Telespazio, includes the National Research Council (CNR), Italian Space Agency (ASI), Cohaerentia, QTI, ThinkQuantum, TIM SPA, Telsy, TOP-IX Consortium, University of Naples Federico II, Politecnico di Milano, University of L'Aquila, University La Sapienza of Rome, University of Padua and University of Trieste.