QuTech, KPN, SURF and OPNT join forces to build a quantum network

Delft, 25 November 2020 – QuTech (a collaboration between TU Delft and TNO), KPN, SURF and OPNT are launching a collaboration designed to make significant progress in building a first ever quantum network connecting the Randstad, i.e. one of the main metropolitan regions in The Netherlands. The project will focus on connecting different quantum processors, a significant distance apart, over a Dutch network. The aim is to build the very first fully functional quantum network using high-speed fibre connections.

Fundamentally secure communication
A quantum network is a radically new internet technology, with the potential for creating pioneering applications. Such a network connects quantum processors to each other via optical channels, and this enables the exchange of so-called quantum bits (qubits). Qubits have a number of features that make them very different from the bits we currently know and use in classical networks. For example, quantum communication is potentially immune to eavesdropping practices. Quantum communication networks are expected to evolve over time towards a global quantum network, and this would allow secure communication; position verification; clock synchronisation; computation using external quantum computers; and more. Among other things, the project is intended to lead to new techniques, insights and standards that will bring a quantum network closer.

Fundamental and industrial research
Building a quantum network that enables all of the pioneering applications mentioned above is a unique challenge, and one that forms the focus for TKI project partners*. Around the world, researchers are working hard to turn quantum networks into reality, but all existing solutions are based on a simpler technology. This provides the incentive for TKI-partners to contribute to building a fully functional quantum network.

The quantum internet ecosystem of the future
Different parties in the collaboration each contribute their own areas of expertise. Ultimately, the mix of skills will help to create a programmable quantum network that connects quantum processors in different cities. Erwin van Zwet, Internet Division Engineering Lead at QuTech, underlined the project’s importance: "Working with these partners, we expect to have taken significant steps towards a quantum network by the end of the TKI project."

Although the technology is still at an early stage, all four parties see the benefit of joining forces now. Wojciech Kozlowski, a postdoc at QuTech and responsible for one of the work packages in the TKI project: "Every day we are working on finding answers to the question of how network operators, such as KPN or SURF, can deploy a quantum network, and what sort of services they can offer their users. Although we are still in an early stage of development, we are already building the quantum internet ecosystem of the future by working with key partners. This ecosystem will prove crucial as our quantum network evolves into a fully-fledged quantum internet."

* About the TKI project
QuTech, KPN, SURF and OPNT are part of TKI (Top consortium for Knowledge and Innovation) High Tech Systems & Materials.


About QuTech
At QuTech, we work on a radically new technology with world-changing potential. Our mission: to develop scalable prototypes of a quantum computer and an inherently safe quantum internet, based on the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics. To achieve these ambitious goals, we bring together scientists, engineers and industry in an inspiring environment. We are jointly creating the quantum future, because we believe that quantum technology can be a game changer in many social and economic sectors, including health, agriculture, climate and safety.

QuTech (www.qutech.nl) is a mission-driven research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).

About KPN
KPN has been the leading provider of telecommunications and IT services in the Netherlands for almost 140 years. Everyone in the Netherlands uses the KPN network on a daily basis, either directly or indirectly, from the high-speed fibre networks in the ground to payment card machines in shops, or the matrix boards above the motorways. Via the network of the Netherlands, in which KPN continuously invests by rolling out fibre and the introduction of new technologies such as the 5G mobile network, KPN serves consumers and business customers with services for telephony, data, television, cloud, workplaces and security. KPN has an open network on which other providers also offer services. More information is available at www.kpn.com

About SURF
SURF ensures that students, lecturers and researchers in education and research have access to the best possible ICT resources on favourable terms for the purpose of top-level research and talent development in national and international collaboration. SURF therefore develops, innovates and operates an advanced, federated e-infrastructure in conjunction with the institutions. SURF also organises demand aggregation, collaboration and knowledge sharing in relation to ICT themes for the member institutions. More information is available at www.surf.nl

About OPNT
OPNT (Optical Positioning Navigation and Timing) is an expert in highly accurate and reliable long-distance time distribution. OPNT is a spin-off of the VU Amsterdam and uses White Rabbit technology with sub-nanosecond accuracy, developed by CERN. OPNT offers its service under the name Timing as a Service (TaaS). The Timing as a Service solution of OPNT integrates GPS-quality timing and beyond with the flexibility and reliability of standard telecom equipment. OPNT's ambition is to transform the global satellite-based time distribution (e.g. GPS) into a terrestrial (fibre-optic)-based Timing as a Service solution.

More information is available at http://www.opnt.nl.