FranceQCI: A project to build the future of the French quantum internet in collaboration with the University Côte d’Azur

The development of the quantum internet is a major issue in ensuring the security of communications and data in critical infrastructure and government institutions.

In this context, the FranceQCI project was officially launched on April 18, 2023. This project aims to deploy quantum communication infrastructure (QCI) networks in France and experiment with them under real conditions for a period of 30 months.

FranceQCI is a project co-funded by the European Commission, as part of the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) initiative launched by the EU in 2019. It is one of the main pillars of the EU’s new cybersecurity strategy for the decades to come, which aims to secure communications and data for critical infrastructure and government institutions.

The FranceQCI consortium brings together actors with diverse and complementary expertise and resources. As a leading academic institution, University Côte d’Azur is one of the partners of the project, alongside Airbus, CNRS, Cryptonext Security, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Orange, Sorbonne University, Télécom Paris, Thales, Thales Alenia Space, Veriqloud and Welinq.

The FranceQCI project aims to deploy advanced national quantum systems and networks to test quantum communication technologies and integrate them into existing communication networks in France.

Existing infrastructures in the Paris region (ParisRegionQCI) and Nice (Quantum@UCA/Nice) will be used to evolve towards operational quantum key distribution (QKD) services and contribute to the development of European technological autonomy. A quantum network will also be implemented in Toulouse (in the DGAC/DSNA/DTI laboratory) to perform a realistic end-user service test for the French Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

FranceQCI represents a first step towards a comprehensive European quantum communication infrastructure that could be implemented with cross-border links connecting similar networks in other countries, either through fiber optic terrestrial links or through space connectivity.

The involvement of the University Côte d’Azur in the FranceQCI project strengthens its position as a major player in research and innovation in France and Europe. The University’s participation alongside major industries, global leaders in their respective fields, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs/startups) with deep and unique expertise, and other top-ranked academic institutions in the world, llustrates the University Côte d’Azur’s commitment to ambitious and internationally significant research projects.

The involvement of University Côte d’Azur, alongside other major industry and research players, in this ambitious project is further evidence of the university’s prominent position in the European academic and scientific landscape.

The FranceQCI project also provides an opportunity for the University Côte d’Azur to develop new training programs and strengthen the expertise of its researchers and engineers in the field of quantum communication, in order to prepare future players in the sector.

Orange has been named coordinator of the FranceQCI consortium, as the only telecommunications operator, essential for its expertise in deploying and integrating networks.

« The objective of the FranceQCI consortium is to give a significant boost towards a European quantum communication infrastructure that will be able to protect sensitive data and critical communications of government entities, data centers, hospitals, energy networks, and more. We are delighted to receive funding from the European Union under the Digital Europe program to contribute to one of the main pillars of the EU’s cybersecurity strategy », explained Michaël Trabbia, Executive Director and CEO of Orange Wholesale, and interim Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of the Group, representing all members of the FranceQCI consortium.

Research & Higher Education – Nice Côte d’Azur (France)

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