Unbounded number of channel uses may be required to detect quantum capacity
Transmitting data reliably over noisy communication channels is one of the most important applications of information theory, and is well understood for channels modelled by classical physics. However, when quantum effects are involved, we do not know how to compute channel capacities. This is because the formula for the quantum capacity involves maximizing the coherent information over an unbounded number of channel uses. In fact, entanglement across channel uses can even increase the coherent information from zero to non-zero. Here we study the number of channel uses necessary to detect positive coherent information. In all previous known examples, two channel uses already sufficed. It might be that only a finite number of channel uses is always sufficient. We show that this is not the case: for any number of uses, there are channels for which the coherent information is zero, but which nonetheless have capacity.