When we talk about “quantum Internet“, the meaning has often been that of a sort of chimera which, before becoming reality, must still aspire to be at least a prototype, if not an idea. But progress has been made over the years, however, and now the United States seems ready to deploy its technological weapons to make sure that the yard can be opened to the Internet that will come.
Quantum Internet: the Network to come
The qualitative leap could be radical and, even before being configured as a matter of speed or bandwidth, everything would be driven primarily by the great added value that could be had in terms of safety. The US Department of Energy – Office of Scientific and Technical Information has put its report on the topic in black and white, prefiguring a project ready to go. A workshop held last February would have laid the foundations for the works that are intended to be carried out and the goal would be precisely the prototyping of a new generation network capable of bringing everything to a quantum level, exceeding the current laws of physics applied to telecommunications.
The report is available online (pdf) and wants to be a starting point for the USA: during this meeting, methods, processes and objectives were defined from which to start trying to sketch out a project on which to start working. Much of this revolves around the concept of entanglement, such that two entities can also be correlated at a distance and on the basis of this distance it is possible to generate instantaneous communications that easily overcome the current limits. Quantum physics, however, remains a science still to be studied in-depth and, above all, its possible technical applications remain to be explored. Just as great strides are being made in terms of quantum computing, in the same way now this dimension can become that of the Network of the future. From the era of the bit, we will move to the era of the qubit and it will not be only an evolutionary question: everything suggests that it may be a real revolution.
The embryo of the quantum Internet to come could be in a network consisting of 3 nodes over a distance of 80 miles between Batavia’s Fermilab, Lemont’s Argonne National Lab and the University of Chicago. Should the project go through, large-scale applications with a profound impact on high-importance communications could be imagined: from the Pentagon to the major financial companies, passing through a myriad of health and economic applications, they could derive a fundamental competitive advantage.
The report following the meeting at the beginning of the year represents a political endorsement of the project, on which the United States, therefore, intends to bet. At this point it is no longer a question of “if”, but of “how”. And possibly “when”.