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Port of Rotterdam stays connected with quantum internet

As part of the Quantum Delta NL programme, a consortium of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, QBird, Single Quantum, Cisco, Eurofiber, Portbase, Intermax, and InnovationQuarter has succeeded in building a scalable quantum internet connection in the port of Rotterdam.

A trial setup demonstrated that the use of quantum technology prevents access to sensitive information. In future, this new communication system could improve the security of the tens of thousands of seagoing vessels that visit the port every year and also better secure the resulting economic traffic from the threat of quantum computers.

Establishing a good connection

During the trial, which started in late 2022, a central hub for creating a quantum network was installed by QBird in Eurofiber’s data centre. This central hub is connected to two endpoints at Portbase and Port of Rotterdam Authority. These two endpoints exchanged data secured with quantum keys during the trial period. The generation and distribution of keys takes place within the quantum network, with QBird using a unique multipoint-to-multipoint configuration for the endpoints.

Many new endpoints can be connected to the central hub, each of which can generate quantum keys. Other quantum key distribution systems rely on a less flexible peer-to-peer configuration. QBird is the only party in the world to offer this scalable system. The system can also be used to secure other critical infrastructure networks in the Netherlands. In light of the success of this trial, new endpoints at Customs and a number of nautical service providers in the port will be connected to the central hub over the course of this year.

The setup built during the trial will allow multiple end-users to be provided with a secure, untappable connection in the future. The strength of this setup is the ease with which it can be expanded to many more users and the relatively low cost of such expansion. After the connection, the parties involved can be sure that the communication line has not been tampered with. If a hacker tries to steal the keys, the laws of quantum mechanics ensure that users are notified as soon as the keys are compromised. Another set of keys is then created to securely exchange further messages.

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Copyright: © Port of Rotterdam

Caption: The Port of Rotterdam gets scalable quantum internet