Four carriers create inter-operator blockchain network

Four carriers create inter-operator blockchain network

21 February 2020 | Natalie Bannerman

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Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, T-Mobile US and Orange have created the first inter-operator blockchain network, together with the GSMA.

Specifically, the five companies are jointly testing a production-ready solution based on blockchain technology that allows operators to easily generate and sign secure, inter-operator roaming discount agreements.

“Our new solution is scalable, therefore, IoT devices and new emerging business requirements can be easily accommodated in the future. Disputes and financial losses will be minimised,” said John Calian, senior vice president and head of T-Labs, Deutsche Telekom’s innovation unit.

This development creates a new layer of trust between operators as agreed terms cannot be subsequently changed or tampered with. In addition, it allows a holistic, analytic view of agreements, enabling further automation of the roaming wholesale workflow in the future.

“The inter-operator workflow in roaming has been basically unchanged for the last 20 years. In the near future however, new services like NB-IoT, LTE-M or VoLTE and other quality-based services will drastically increase the complexity of inter-operator discount agreements and respective settlements,” said Rolf Nafziger, senior vice president of Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier. “This blockchain-based solution is the start of automating sections of our workflow. It will put us in a position to handle the additional complexity while increasing overall efficiency.”

Plans are now in place to open-source the code from the project so that it can be used by the industry at large.

The news follows the launch of the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum Communications Business Automation Network (CBAN). The CBAN is backed by 10 influential supporters, A1 Telekom Austria, BTS, Colt Technology Services, Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, IDT, Orange, PCCW Global, Tata Communications, Telefónica International Wholesale Services, and Telstra, together with three other carriers, AT&T, Sparkle and Verizon.

The technology uses distributed ledger technology (DLT), often known as blockchain technology, though an executive close to CBAN pointed out that “blockchain is a DLT but not all DLTs are blockchain”.