Connecting Beyond Boundaries: The City of Light’s First Optical Wireless Communications Link over 5 km

Eindhoven, Netherlands — In a quantum leap toward seamless and secure connectivity, Eindhoven unveils its first state-of-the-art Terrestrial Optical Wireless Communications (OWC) Test Bed. This collaborative effort between Aircision, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), and CUbIQ Technologies (CubiQ) promises to redefine how we communicate across cities, urban, and remote landscapes using infrared (IR) light.

The inaugural 5 km (3 mi) optical wireless link (the “Reid Photon Loop”) connects the High-Tech Campus Eindhoven (HTC) and TU/e, serving as a beacon of innovation and to demonstrate the power of OWC to our customers, investors, commercial partners, and fellow researchers.

Aircision, a pioneer in free-space optical communications, spearheads this endeavour. Their cutting-edge technology enables seamless data transmission through the atmosphere, unhindered by cables or radio waves. Robert Hughes, CEO Aircision commented, “We are extremely proud to have this optical wireless test bed nearby to enable us and our partners to continue to advance the boundaries of seamless connectivity.”

TU/e collaborates closely with industry, academia, and research institutions to drive innovation and to address global challenges. The Electro-Optical Communication Group at TU/e was instrumental in partnering with Aircision to establish the first test bed to facilitate access to their partners for interoperability testing. Eduward Tangdiongga who leads the long-reach optical wireless communications activities at TU/e: “The state-of-the-art OWC testbed will enable us to advance our research in technologies to support 6G networks. This test bed marks a natural continuation of our long-standing engagement with Aircision on optical wireless communications.”

CUbIQ, a startup based in Eindhoven, is developing a Quantum secure coherent engine which reduces energy consumption and cost by a factor of 100x with respect to currently available Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) systems on the market. After last year’s successful lab tests of CUbIQ’s quantum secure transceiver prototype over Aircision’s optical wireless link, the aim is to demonstrate its unique QKD technology in this long reach terrestrial optical wireless link. Chigo Okonkwo CTO of CUbIQ , commented; “We are extremely excited to have access to the testbed working with our partners to demonstrate how our solution performs over a real world deployed link which is designed to meet the growing need for secure data transmission.”

Why Terrestrial OWC Matters:

  • Beyond Fibre Optics: The Terrestrial OWC Test Bed transcends physical constraints. Imagine ultra-fast internet connections without digging up streets or laying cables—just beams of light connecting our cities.
  • Smart Cities and IoT: As smart cities evolve, OWC will become the backbone of interconnected devices. From autonomous vehicles to smart lampposts, our test bed facilitates the way forward for a data-rich landscape.
  • Secure and Immune: Unlike radio waves susceptible to electro-magnetic interference, OWC offers inherent security. No eavesdropping, no signal leakage coupled with QKD for ultimate security.
  • Environmental Impact: With zero electromagnetic interference and minimal energy consumption, OWC aligns with our commitment to a sustainable future.
  • Stay tuned as we illuminate the path toward a connected world.

About TU/e

The TU/e Photonic Wireless Convergence Lab at the Electro Optical Communications Group focusses on research and development of reliable high-capacity wireless transmission systems including RF wireless and optical wireless / OWC for short-medium-long distance application including front- and backhaul networks. This test bed is partially funded by 1.1 billion Euro PhotonDelta National Growth Fund on Photonics and the Netherlands science organisation (NWO) Perspectief TTW project ‘Optical Wireless Superhighway’ and by the new European innovation CounciI (EIC) Transition project ‘CombTools’.

About CUbIQ Technologies

CUbIQ Technologies is a pioneering start-up that is developing quantum-secure systems. The company is currently developing its quantum secure coherent engine and is currently raising funding to close its pre-seed round. CUbIQ aims to deliver its first pre-commercial systems by the end of 2024 and will be at the Optical Fiber Communications Conference (OFC 2024) in San Diego, California.

About Aircision

Aircision is a Dutch start-up and spin-off from TNO developing products for ultra-high-capacity optical wireless systems which is quick to deploy, highly secure, and optimised for long distances in the backhaul of telecommunication networks. In 2023, Aircision demonstrated an optical wireless link capable of 1.2Tbps and will also be attending MWC and OFC 2024.

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