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How Operators can Avoid Blockchain's Pitfalls


By simplifying functions, improving efficiency, and increasing security, blockchain can be used to support BSS and OSS processes

Blockchain in telecoms

In the telecoms industry, operators including Orange, Verizon and Telstra, have already invested in blockchain-related projects, prototypes and frameworks during the last couple of years, while others, such as AT&T and BT, have filed multiple patents relating to the application of blockchain technology in telecoms. 

With operators and OEMs including Samsung, Nokia, Huawei and Swisscom joining the global, cross-industry Hyperledger collaboration, it’s clear that blockchain is being seen as a serious proposition by some of the sector’s biggest players. Indeed, some analysts predict that blockchain deployment in the telecoms sector alone could be worth over $1 billion within the next five years, up from just $46.6 million in 2018.

The uses case for blockchain

A number of operators are currently in the process of identifying the relevant use cases that can be realized by leveraging the technology.

Telecoms fraud, for example, cost the industry more than $29 billion in 2017, a figure that could be significantly reduced through the deployment of blockchain technology. The cryptography capability inherent in blockchain could be used to link a mobile device to the identity of its owner, thereby minimizing the risk of identity fraud, in which false identification is used to illegally obtain products or services.

Another use case concerns identity and data management. Here, blockchain could generate additional revenues for an operator. By providing each user with an eSIM, for example, CSPs could create virtual identities which would be encrypted and stored in a blockchain. These identities could then be used as a means of authentication when making online purchases, entering secure facilities, using a connected car or when verifying personal documents such as driving licenses and passports.

Blockchain for the future

Blockchain’s capability for enabling cost-effective international payments between two geographies while incurring minimal transaction charges even provides CSPs with the opportunity to become global payment providers. After the India’s demonetization initiative in 2016, for example, a number of the country’s operators enabled customer-to-customer money transfers, employing blockchain to handle the transactions—and ultimately making the process cheaper and more secure.

Furthermore, by simplifying functions, improving efficiency, and increasing security, blockchain can be used to support BSS and OSS processes, such as number portability, connectivity provision, and billing and transaction management.

Finally, of course, blockchain offers promise in reducing the friction around the arrival of 5G. With 5G’s wholesale rollout on the horizon, operators can use blockchain to overcome issues around real-time processing and network provisioning, speeding up network implementations and managing user interactions with third-party services.

It's worth noting that none of this is simply hypothetical, with many operators now carrying out PoCs to evaluate the technology and how it could transform their current processes to improve visibility, transparency and trust with their customers and partners.

Proving the concept

Earlier this year, an industry collaboration that included the Digital Supply Chain Institute (DSCI), a not-for-profit research organization, explored a Proof of Concept (PoC) on how blockchains could enhance software product development and improve DevOps. This provides valuable lessons for telecom operators who are considering blockchains.

The implementation of a secure DevOps function in a global organization presents unique challenges in terms of scaling it to manage workflows across large, diverse and geographically dispersed development teams. Meeting these challenges requires seamless collaboration across disparate environments in which both human developers and automated processes are able to work together in a symbiotic relationship. To address this complexity, the team envisioned and developed a technical solution structured as a single blockchain-based system with the aim of facilitating trusted product development, increasing developer efficiency, and delivering increased transparency.



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