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Eurofiber is set to build the infrastructure for quantum-encrypted communications at the Port of Rotterdam. Together with Portbase, Q*Bird, Cisco and Innovation Quarter, it will make Quantum Key Distribution deployable for all kinds of organizations involved in Port of Rotterdam.

The company explains that cybercrime and the rise of quantum computers require new encryption methods to come to fruition. Quantum Key Distribution is considered a promising option for making communications as secure and “quantum-proof” as possible. We recently spoke with Innovation Officer at Eurofiber Marc Hulzebos about the encryption method and the challenges it still faces. MDI-QKD (Measurement Device Independent Quantum Key Distribution), however, should overcome many of them and be deployable on a large scale and across long distances.

The new network will not only be built in Rotterdam. Connections to Amsterdam and other regions will create a “quantum staging network” that already covers much of the Randstad region, with possible further expansions in the Netherlands and beyond.

Tip: Intelligence agencies don’t like encryption with Quantum Key Distribution

Portbase system

Central to the collaboration is Portbase, established by the Port of Rotterdam Authority and its Amsterdam-based counterpart as a central hub for Dutch port logistics. The Port Community System (PCS) serves as the corresponding digital infrastructure. Every port sector can connect and communicate with it. This is the network that the consortium of Eurofiber and Q*Bird, among others, will realize. Those two parties have already pioneered MDI-QKD, supported by Juniper hardware.

According to Martin Vos, Business Innovation Director at Eurofiber, the collaboration indicates that critical infrastructure in the Netherlands is prepared for the future. “Eurofiber has experience with such endeavors and provides the industry-leading connections needed for QKD encryption.  Since quantum technology is a tried-and-tested solution, we are now focusing on adoption, usage, implementation and cost, so we can bring it to market within the near future.”

QKD challenges

Several European intelligence agencies have argued that there are still many ifs and buts to QKD. A recent position paper made clear that they do not yet see the technology as a viable encryption method in the short term for many use cases. Eurofiber also argues that QKD will mainly focus on a niche, although the precise applications will, in fact, mostly be critical in nature. The project around the port of Rotterdam is a case in point, where scale and connectivity are significant challenges for QKD while delivering on the strictest security requirements. Either way, the project offers the parties involved a chance to prove that QKD can play a key role in the most secure communication systems.