The telecom sector has the most complex operations framework that involves a number of vendors, customers, distributors, network providers, and VAS providers. The involvement of these entities leads to trust issues and transparency challenges. That being said, the telecom industry lacks an effective mechanism to track different activities performed by these entities. Moreover, the centralized operational structure of telecom companies causes inefficiencies like inaccurate billing, expensive tariff, and security issues.
Blockchain technology, when used in the telecom sector, will inculcate trust, transparency, and increase process efficiencies. Using this distributed ledger technology, telecom operators can create a trustless network amongst different stakeholders to achieve enhanced security and transparency.
According to Kenneth Research, blockchain in the telecom sector is expected to grow from USD 46.6 million in 2018 to USD 993.8 million by 2023. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected to be 84.4% during the forecast period. Let’s explore how the telecom sector could harness the benefits of blockchain to enhance their existing services.
Telcos control the end-to-end value chain like network infrastructure, data connectivity, and other related consumer services for businesses, organizations, and individual users. Factors like limited spectrum and increasing bandwidth requirements negatively impact the overall revenue of telecom operators and service providers. As a result, they need to increase their service costs to balance their profit margins. However, if the telcos are able to obtain new sources of revenue, they may significantly reduce their service charges.
Blockchain can make an impact on the core management system of telcos. It can create an environment where costs can be reduced and the revenue can be increased with efficiency.
Fraud Detection and Prevention
Research by Deloitte reveals that telcos lose $38.1 billion every year due to fraudulent schemes. Most of the fraud instances in telecommunications occur either due to fake identification or authorization.
By implementing blockchain, a mobile device can be tied to the owner’s identity. Instead of broadcasting the International Mobile Subscriber Identity, the owner’s public key would be used. Neither the operator nor any third party would need to know the private key.
Also, the risk of fraud while roaming could be diminished by implementing a permissioned blockchain. It can limit parties that can access the chain and transact on it, between every pair of operators that have a roaming agreement. Whenever a subscriber takes action in the welcoming network, a micro contract and the terms of the agreement are carried out.
In a consortium model, multiple business transactions are efficiently carried out. Here, stakeholders have a common interest and come together to be part of the blockchain network, e.g., trade finance and KYC. Blockchain can play a significant role in bringing all stakeholders together.
In telecommunications, the service providers connect with their partners, other telecom companies, and suppliers to provide connectivity and services to their customers. Hence, it is crucial to ensure there is trust, security, and transparency in such complex transactions and interactions between all these parties. For the telecommunications ecosystem, a permissioned blockchain network can bring multiple benefits. Also, a group of participants can be identified and given special authority to provide validation of blocks of transactions.
Internet of Things
At present, telecom faces the issue of security and viability while implementing IoT. Reinforcing IoT with blockchain technology may overcome these challenges. The reinforcement will facilitate a secure environment of peer-to-peer self-managed mesh networks through several nodes. Coupled with the capacity to authenticate every block within the blockchain, these nodes function using single embedded IoT sensors. If proven viable, a public network based on the concept of Ethereum or Bitcoin networks can be implemented for the customers. It will provide a secure and seamless connectivity.
The current processes in roaming partner settlements and issue resolution timelines may take months. Implementing blockchain technology can simplify the process with real-time views. It enables faster identification of issues, resolutions, and ensures reduced disputes. Telcos can automate SLA documents into smart contracts through programmable blockchain solutions. Also, they can provide real-time updates on the threshold breaches to all the stakeholders.
You may also be interested in reading Introduction to Digibyte Blockchain
Selecting the Right Blockchain Technology
There are varied blockchain technologies like Bitcoin, Hyperledger, Ethereum, Ripple, Multichain, Sawtooth, and Corda. While there are multiple choices, it is very important to choose the right technology in the context of the use case. For instance, for registries, Multichain is an option; for computational logic, preference can be a blockchain platform that supports smart contracts like Hyperledger.
Below are the key parameters for choosing a blockchain solution:
- Use Case
- Value delivered through blockchain solution for the identified use case
- Data that needs to be stored and processed
- Programming languages supported
- Open Ecosystem
- Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)
- Transaction size, rate
- Consensus model
- Platform community
- Smart Contracts, programmability
- Computational needs
- Infrastructure, deployment models
Telecommunications are aiming for extreme digitization across organizations and ecosystems. Blockchain can be a viable solution for specific scenarios and bring in efficiency, simplified process, and transparency. Moreover, the underlying fundamentals of blockchain technology can create a fast, simple, and secure way of communication.
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