13 March 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Two major global operators have started trials to see how blockchain can speed up time for inter-carrier settlements and make them more reliable.
The two are Colt and PCCW Global,
which have already started work on the project and believe that
blockchain can cut inter-carrier settlement times from hours to
"We have demonstrated how blockchain can transform the way
we conduct business in the telecom industry," said Colt CEO Carl Grivner.
Marc Halbfinger, CEO of PCCW Global, the
international operating division of HKT, said: "Everyone is
talking about blockchain but the use cases in the telecom
industry have been fairly limited until now."
Halbfinger chairs the Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF),
an organisation of senior carrier industry executives
associated with International Telecoms Week (ITW), the
annual event organised by Capacity Media.
The blockchain technology partner in this project is Clear.
CEO Gal Hochberg said: "It is exciting for any business to
create something that has the power to truly innovate how an
entire industry operates. This proof of concept (PoC) marks the
beginning of how blockchain is set to revolutionise the
Halbfinger said: "While this deployment is currently only at
the PoC stage, through our collaboration with Colt and Clear we
are eager to demonstrate how the many potential uses of
blockchain across our industry can deliver exponential value by
improving the ways in which we interoperate."
Grivner added: "Collaborating with PCCW Global and Clear is
This PoC was focused on the settlement area of wholesale
voice minutes, as most operators have similar processes for
these transactions. As part of the trial, the parties involved
implemented a bilateral private blockchain to record
transactions, which were then reported to a public blockchain.
Smart contracts were then used to rate call detail records,
resolve disputes and record the settlement transactions.
The companies pointed out that, until now, despite the
financial importance of these settlements to wholesale
carriers, they still involve manual transactions which are
opaque, complex and costly for all parties.
In the trial, the application of blockchain’s
decentralised, cryptographically enforced, immutable ledger
technology resulted in tens of thousands of call records being
analysed and settled in a few minutes. Using blockchain
technology, hundreds of hours of manual work were reduced to
seconds of automated verification and settlement, the companies
They added the point that blockchain technology adds an
extra layer of security and trust to transactions in an
industry where sensitive and proprietary information is
frequently exchanged, fraud is rife, and dispute resolution can
be lengthy and complex.
Most of today’s blockchain technologies lack
solutions for scalability, contract privacy and enterprise
grade business logic, all critical for an industry-wide
settlement and clearing platform. However, through the use of
proprietary technologies such as multi-layer blockchain
architecture, advanced cryptography and scalability
enhancements to existing blockchain implementations, this PoC
demonstrated the viability of a blockchain-based wholesale
GLF members have been discussing applications for blockchain
for some time. GLF aims to foster an environment within the
industry that focuses on ubiquity, collaboration and
interoperability between providers.
This PoC was centred on these themes by attempting to
understand how a technology such as blockchain can benefit the
sector as a whole.
Grivner said: "It is our goal to create a more agile,
customer oriented organisation, and one way in which we are
doing this is by exploring the benefits of disruptive
technologies, such as blockchain."
Following the trials he said: "This PoC could also see the
beginning of a cryptocurrency model where, rather than
exchanging cash to settle transactions, carriers could move to
a token-based credit environment. If successful, such a model
could be rolled out beyond the carrier community to other
technology service providers."
Read interviews on the blockchain initiative