Bulgarian National Plan Kick off Meeting in Sofia

The Mayor of Sofia, Ms. Yordanka Fandakova, and Centre of Competence QUASAR announced the launch of the Bulgaria’s National Plan for the construction of the first Quantum Communication Infrastructure in Bulgaria.

The host of the event was the National Coordinator of the project Center of Competence QUASAR, part of the Institute of Robotics by the Bulgarian Academy of Science.

Today, 10.02.2023, the construction of the first quantum communication network in Bulgaria, which is implemented within the framework of the European initiative EuroQCI, was officially launched. The initiative is aimed at building a single quantum communication network on the territory of the entire European Union, with which Brussels aims to guarantee Europe’s cyber security and communication sovereignty.

Modern computing capabilities of supercomputers and quantum computers make standard cyber defenses increasingly difficult. This is also confirmed by the unprecedented hybrid attacks in Europe that have become more frequent in recent years, affecting not only businesses, but also more and more so various state institutions. It is for this reason that in 2020 the European Commission launched the EuroQCI Initiative, in which all Member States of the European Union have signed to participate.

Each Member State should implement a national plan approved in advance by Brussels to build its quantum-communication networks, which will protect sensitive data and critical infrastructures, by integrating quantum-based systems into existing communication infrastructures. Subsequently, all networks in all Member States should be united in a single European network using interconnectors.

In Bulgaria, the construction of the infrastructure will be coordinated by the National Center for Quantum Communication QUASAR, part of the Institute of Robotics by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Within the next thirty months, the Center’s experts are to build two pilot quantum tracks. One of them is on the territory of the city of Sofia and will include the information arrays of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Transport. The second route will be a 280 kilometers long link which will connect Sofia with Greece, through bringing the quantum network to the border crossing at Kulata.

This will be realized through the delivery of special quantum devices that will be placed within the existing optical networks of telecom operators and internet and communication service providers. Thus, an additional layer for cyber defence will be created, which will work on the principle of quantum cryptography. The technology is expensive and the matter is complex and innovative, which makes the benefits for the State even greater, as information security experts will have a unique chance to be trained in this new and cutting-edge technology, directly participating in the construction of the first urban quantum communication network.

“Quantum cryptography is a revolutionary, not just an innovative technology that uses the properties of quantum systems to generate secret keys. These secret keys are absolutely random and no information can be extracted from them. This is quite different from classical cryptography, where security is based on complex mathematical tasks, the solution of which takes a long time,” said Associate Professor Lachezar Georgiev, who is the representative of Bulgaria on the EuroQCI Board in the European Commission. “With quantum cryptography, breaking the codes is practically impossible, since security is guaranteed by the properties of quantum systems and the principles of quantum physics,” he added.

The Sofia Municipality, which is an associate partner under the National Plan, will designate its data centers to be included in the network, which will demonstrate how quantum cryptography works. A team of information security employees of the Municipality will have the opportunity to be trained completely free of charge and become part of the “National Center for Quantum Communication Network” of Bulgaria, which is to be structured during the implementation of the National Plan.

“I congratulate Center QUASAR, which will coordinate the National Plan of Bulgaria in this area of key importance for the security of our country. This is both a recognition and a responsibility and an opportunity for the Bulgarian scientific community to show its expertise,” said the Mayor of Sofia, Ms. Yordanka Fandakova.

“For Sofia Municipality, the protection of information has always been a key priority, and I am extremely happy that our team will be able to participate and be trained in this innovative technology in the field of cyber security,” she added.

Among the official guests of the event were the Deputy Mayor of Sofia Mr. Gencho Kerezov, Academician Chavdar Rumenin – Director of Center of Competence QUASAR, Prof. Stefan Hadzhitodorov – Deputy Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences, Evgenia Pasheva – Deputy Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences, Brigadier General Vasil Sabinski – Director KIS-, Major General Todor Dochev – Rector of Military Academy “G.S. Rakovski”, Col. Borislav Genov – Head of the Defense Institute, as well as experts of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Transport and Communications and experts from the industry.