ETSI recruits five companies to work on private blockchains for telecoms 

19 December 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

Europe’s main telecoms standards body has started a group to work with private blockchain systems and provide the foundations of new services.

So far five companies are taking part in the ISG, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Telefónica and Vodafone, and they will meet first on 24 January at Telefónica in Madrid.

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) says that its new industry specification group (ISG) on permissioned distributed ledgers will analyse the requirements for what it calls “permissioned distributed ledgers” – in other words, private blockchains – that can be deployed across various industries and government institutions.

ETSI, based in Sophia Antipolis in the south of France, points out that distributed ledgers can be used for digital identity attributes, object tracking or the verification of service level agreements.

Separately from ETSI, an existing telecoms body, the International Telecoms Week Global Leaders’ Forum (ITW GLF) is carrying out proofs of concepts for the use of blockchain in voice settlements and hopes to start commercial operations in March 2019.

In addition Telefónica is working with IBM on using blockchain for international call routing. And the European Commission is backing the formation of an international blockchain association to stimulate the development of distributed ledger technology.

ETSI says that permissioned distributed ledgers – private blockchains – can address the business-oriented use cases that are of interest to industry and governmental institutions. Meanwhile public blockchains, or permissionless distributed ledgers, are being used in more controversial applications such as cryptocurrencies.

ETSI said the new group will work on the challenges related to the operation of permissioned distributed ledgers, business use cases, functional architecture and solutions for the operation of permissioned distributed ledgers, including interfaces, APIs and protocols and information and data models as well as other topics.