How Telecom Giants Are Using Blockchain Technologies
Blockchain technology is finally getting some well-deserved attention across many sectors. What was once known only as a means to buy bitcoin with credit card has evolved into an innovative way to disrupt most industries known to man.
Many mainstream giants such as Starbucks, JPMorgan Chase, Nestle, and Walmart have begun implementing blockchain technology to improve their supply chain efficiency.
In the telecom sector, AT&T, T-Mobile, Colt, Deutsche Telekom, are only some of the few telecom giants experimenting with blockchain in order to achieve a wide variety of results.
In this article, we explore the basics and benefits of blockchain, and how telecom companies are using it today to streamline their offerings and processes. After reading it, you should understand the value that blockchain brings to the telecom industry.
What is blockchain?
Blockchain technology was first made popular as the technology behind the original cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. This decentralized, distributed ledger records all the transactions on its network in a secure and immutable manner.
Since its first appearance in 2009, blockchain has found many applications across a wide array of industries thanks to the following unique properties:
- Transparency – the records on the blockchain can be accessed by anyone that requires it. Every transaction is recorded and can be traced back to its origin.
- Security – due to its distributed nature, thousand of computers own an exact copy of the ledger. The security is greatly increased as there’s no single failure point for hackers to exploit.
- Decentralization – no one owns the blockchain protocol and there’s no central governing body. Instead, modifications to the system are made through the consensus of all the participants in the network.
An important milestone to blockchain’s evolution is the release of the Ethereum blockchain and with it, the implementation of smart contracts. Apart from growing the project’s utility, it also increased the Ethereum price.
Thanks to these self-executing contracts, individuals and organizations can create digital value and self-operating computer programs with the logic of a traditional contract. Carrying them out can be completely automated, helping to eliminate unreliable and slow human interaction in processes such as the execution and authorization of payments.
Blockchain technology advantages for telecom
Blockchains allow telecoms to openly and efficiently share pertinent data. Information such as SIM cards, IMSI numbers, partner agreements, and roaming deals can be seamlessly shared between concerned parties.
Furthermore, any modification of this data will be automatically detected and without the proper consensus, fraud and malicious intent can be completely negated.
In the telecommunications market, blockchain can provide a solution to data corruption especially in relation to roaming, by automating settlements and billing between operators. This would result in a much more streamlined and cost-effective process for both the provider and the consumers.
Also, thanks to the immutability of the data of the distributed ledger, the evidence of the services offered and used are replicated in many elements of the network. This means that users can always be billed appropriately, and double-charges for services could become history. This, in turn, would cut down on bureaucracy costs of customer and surcharge complaints.
How is blockchain used by telecom giants?
The many advantages blockchain provides have been used to reach different goals by the big players in the industry.
As a major telecom actor, AT&T is working toward incorporating blockchain technology for its own supply chain in regards to smartphones. For example, every phone distributed to the end consumer on contract, including information about repairs, warranties, upgrades, etc, is part of their complicated supply chain data.
By using blockchain solutions, AT&T wants to ensure that only certified parts are used in the device remanufacturing process. Additionally, blockchain would allow for better traceability of components.
Deutsche Telekom is another telecom giant experimenting with blockchain technology. They are looking forward to eliminating recurrent customer pain points by streamlining the data management process with the help of blockchain solutions. This could be done by validating subscriptions through smart contracts.
Additionally, the German company is working on an automated interconnection payment system between telecommunication providers.
Other telecommunication companies around the globe are working on many other use cases. For instance, some are creating decentralized applications thanks to smart contracts to decentralize common business structures. This will allow them to eliminate any intermediaries or commissions when making a mutual settlement of payments.
Finally, some companies have stated that blockchain might be the missing piece in the intricate puzzle between the 5G and IoT (internet of things) that could accelerate the global deployment of both revolutionary technologies.
Blockchain has a large part to play in the modernization of many industries, and telecom is an optimal example. And while it may take some time before telecom giants start accepting the technology en masse, it will undoubtedly happen in the near future.
Operators could resolve issues such as data security and privacy, and help streamline the subscription and roaming processes, cutting down on costs and making it more efficient as a whole.