We examine the operation of a device for a public quantum key distribution network. The recipients attempt to determine whether or not their individual key copies, which are a sequence of coherent states, are identical. To quantify the success of the protocol we use a fidelity-based figure of merit and describe a method for increasing this in the presence of noise and imperfect detectors. We show that the fidelity may be written as the product of two factors: one that depends on the properties of the device setup and another that depends on the detectors used. We then demonstrate the effect various parameters have on the overall effective operation of the device. © 2009 The American Physical Society.