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OPENQKD – Snapshot after the second year from IDQ’s perspective

OPENQKD is a collaborative European project (in the framework of H2020) that will install and run testbeds in several European places to test and showcase Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) systems under different use case scenarios. This will demonstrate the performance and integration of the devices in real-world optical fiber networks and assess its business value. OPENQKD runs for two years now, which is a welcome opportunity to have a look at past and future activities.


The European Commission and EU member states are convinced that QKD is a key element in securing our data transiting European communication channels. This triggered the so-called European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) initiative to deploy QKD links on large scales all over Europe. Recently, Ireland joint and now all 27 EU member states participate to the EuroQCI. OPENQKD is a public funded project that serves as a first test balloon to demonstrate the maturity of the technology, the ease of integration and its value for the users.

OPENQKD objectives and some numbers

OPENQKD has a lot of different activities on various levels driven by 38 partners from industry, public and private institutes as well as universities. The consortium works on the technology itself, its compatibility with other IT equipment and its integration in real-world environments. More than 50 use cases from all relevant sectors (e.g., government, health care, finance, critical infrastructure) are implemented and tested in 16 testbeds in different European countries. International standardization activities are supported by the partners, who come from 13 EU member stated and associated countries.

A highlight of the project is an instrument called Open Call that allow to bring in new associated partners who want to test their use case with QKD. The QKD resources are provided by the project, which also covers the cost of the installation and setup. Another way for interested organizations to get involved is to sign up to the Quantum Industry Board, which is a platform to get more information and to get in direct touch with the OPENQKD consortium.

All these activities are funded as a H2020 project for a runtime of three years. The total funding amounts to € 15 million, which is complemented with € 3 million in-kind contributions from the for-profit partners of OPENQKD.

Role of ID Quantique

ID Quantique (IDQ) plays a significant role in OPENQKD by supplying the majority of available QKD systems. We support the testbed and use case coordinators in all phases of the project: designing and planning the use cases, installation of the QKD equipment and technical support during the test. Furthermore, IDQ is actively involved in standardization activities, development of interoperable interfaces and next-generation prototypes, and in the management and communication of the project.



Snapshot of the project at the end of year two

In 2020, IDQ manufactured and delivered all 16 systems to support the first use cases of OPENQKD: the Quantum Vault to secure digital asset custody, a future-proof datacenter interconnection (both Geneva) and a secure transport and storing scheme for medical data (Graz). Furthermore, we supplied our Cerberis³ QKD system to testbeds in Madrid (Telefónica, REDIMadrid, UP Madrid), and Berlin (Deutsche Telekom).

This year, IDQ is supporting the next batch of use cases. Currently, this includes:

  • 5G telecom use case with Telecom Italia and our partner ADVA
  • Quantum-Safe IPVPN connection together with Telefonica and Fortinet suitable for offering a fully managed datacenter interconnection service
  • Validation of QKD using hollow core fibers led by BT
  • Critical Infrastructure use case with Schleswig-Holstein Netz AG (Germany), where aerial fibers are employed
  • Governmental use case with Space Hellas (Greece)
  • Securing an academic network in the metropolitan area of Paris

Later this year, we will further deploy QKD systems for CERN (medical data use case) and SIG (smart grid). More QKD systems for Madrid and Berlin (with Fraunhofer HHI) will follow. Several of these use cases came out of the first Open Call initiative mentioned earlier.

In addition to these deployments, IDQ has advanced with development and innovation actions. The financial support of the European Commission accelerated the completion of IDQ’s latest QKD product, the Cerberis XG, which is the fourth QKD generation of IDQ. On the level of interoperability and standardization, IDQ is closely collaborating with Toshiba Europe and other OPENQKD partners to develop new interfaces between different modules and layers of the QKD network to enable multi-vendor architectures and to avoid vendor lock-ins by design. Another network-relevant topic is Software Defined Networking (SDN), an important paradigm for efficient and dynamic network management. IDQ works here closely with the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) and other members of OPENQKD and ETSI to implement and test recently developed standards (like the ETSI GS 015) and further draft standards for SDN. This year, we focus on the implementation, and we plan to demonstrate the results in 2022 in the Madrid testbed and other OPENQKD venues.

Talking of standardization, OPENQKD also co-funds standardization and certification activities in Europe. This year, an important topic is the Protection Profile (PP), a first major step towards a certification framework. Sponsored by the German BSI and led by DT Security, IDQ is actively contributing as a member of ETSI to ensure the correctness and the applicability of the QKD PP to real world devices and use cases.

We thank all the partners of OPENQKD for the fruitful and constructive collaboration. The results of the project –in the second year of the quantum decade– will certainly trigger and motivate the future development of the EuroQCI and other large-scale initiatives worldwide.

ID Quantique is acknowledging funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 857156.

Data is an organization’s most precious asset. Making data secure is paramount for IDQ. We are there to help you get prepared and start your journey towards quantum-Safe Security. Don’t hesitate to contact us.

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