Blockchain in the Telecom and IoT Market
Blockchain technologies are receiving a great deal of attention in many industries. While the hype is most notable in relation to the crypto-currencies market, this is far from the only application of blockchain technology.
What is Blockchain?
A blockchain consists of an expanding list of records, each linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous one, along with a timestamp, and transaction data. Crucially, blockchain data cannot be modified, and facilitates the creation of a permanent record of transactions.
Blockchain for Telcos
In telecommunications and new technologies market, blockchain can provide a solution to data corruption in BSS, especially in relation to roaming, settlements between operators, and billing. With roaming, it is sometimes the case that communication or transport network problems prevent CDRs from reaching the home network. In such a scenario, the user is not charged but the home operator still needs to pay the visited network operator for the signaling use. With blockchain technology, the CDRs can be replicated and sent to all the eNodeBs and network elements, so they are always billed appropriately. In the same way, the permanence and verifiable nature of blockchain data means there is never any discrepancy in settlements between content and signaling providers. Evidence of services offered and used is replicated in many elements of the network, so the end user can always be charged appropriately.
Blockchain also streamlines and optimizes billing for telcos in a general sense, ensuring that CDRs of all calls, data use, SMS, VAS and more can be replicated in many network elements (acting as nodes) to ensure that no information is misplaced or missed.
Blockchain Technologies and the Internet of Things
Because the Internet of Things is such a large, rapidly expanding and sometimes loosely defined “network”, security can be a challenge. Implementing blockchain technologies in IoT means that every element in the IoT environment can have a unique identity, which can be replicated across all other elements, making it harder for a third party to gain access. Blockchain allows a further layer of security, because even if a network is compromised it is very difficult for an attacker to use fraudulent ID within the system.
It may take a little time to fine-tune the applications of blockchain in the IoT environment, but it will happen. In telecommunications, great progress has already been made, with a growing awareness of the benefits of blockchain, and basic layer technologies already in place. The next step for CSPs and others in this industry is to thoroughly evaluate available products and implement those that best meet their business needs. This includes analysis of areas of operation that can be improved using blockchain technology, because not all areas will be suitable for all the CSPs, and some should not be applied at the same time in the same operation.