Blockchain technology is one of the most talked and most glorified technology and has been extensively using in cryptocurrency. It is still new for many industries and these industries are trying to get the first mover advantage using the blockchain technology. Blockchain technology carries the potential to disrupt the business model of many industries. Telecom or ICT industry is no exception.
What is blockchain:-
The main characteristics of blockchain is shared digital distributed ledger approach. It is very simple to understand from the example that if someone go for servicing of a mobile device there should be some mechanism is place so that you believe that part has been replaced is original one and there is no tempering with software or hardware. For this you need a system which is basically store its information and facts can be verified and security is guaranteed. No one should able to delete or edit the previous or current records. This can be possible through blockchain technology which is a shared and open ledger that permanently keeps record of transaction in a network and cannot be modified as every entry will be stored with chronological order timestamped. So basically it build trust and transparency to its ecosystem .Some of the features of blockchain as below:-
1. Security: online security is biggest threat in this digital economy and blockchain address this issue as this technology is relies on agreement from all network members for the authentication of a transaction and all transactions are permanently stored in data blocks which cannot be edit or delete by anyone. It’s very easy to hack centralized system but this technology has decentralized system it is very difficult to hack into the system.
2. Data integrity: This technology prevent any changes or malicious tempering, as ledger present across multiple nodes it is easier to track with information. The data blocks are linked and secure with special cryptography.
3. Real time processing: The blockchain removes the need of mediator and replace mediator with a network therefore blockchain technology reduce the settlement time of many transactions.
4. Process automation: you can drive some of the automation in process the way events handles and the way data control and you can push to the layer of technology and create the atomic contract and pieces of business logic or any logic called as smart contract.
Below is the diagram of centralized verses decentralized transaction/process.
CSP and Blockchain:-
As in CSP value chain there are number of stakeholders and there always has been trust issue and blockchain technology will be very useful for CSPs and it will disrupt the whole CSP market. Suppose TRAI (Telecom Regularity Authority of India) asked for CDR (call detail records) and performance raw data from EMS from all the operators to check the call drop and performance of Telecom service providers. Telecom service providers provide all the report to regulatory body but how do TRAI will know if all the report is from back from network and not simulated one. So blockchain here help TRAI to get the report which is authentic, validated and secure and immutable, TRAI can also get the report whenever they want in real-time. This example is of compliance point of view but from telecom point there are many cases where blockchain technology will be very useful like spectrum management and trading, IoT, VNF management, roaming monitoring, Number portability etc.
Below is the value chain of CSPs s where blockchain would be a game changer for them.
1. Core Process streamline
2. Network and infrastructure
3. Managed Service/VAS/Micropayment/Content Management
4. Wholesale Business/ vendors and partners
5. IOT ,5G and other emerging technology
Core Process Streamline: There is no chance in near future that telecom operator will change their current core process like OSS and BSS, but definitely telecom operator will enhanced their OSS/BSS capability using blockchain technology. One of the changes will be on number portability database side where operators came up with distributed database by which it will become very easy and in real time port in and out to any customer. There is also scope of using blockchain scope in billing where any private group can validate the interconnect billing among different telecom operators and content providers.
Network and infrastructure: VNFs (Virtual network Functions) instances lifecycle can be easy managed and track the nodes located at any location using blockchain technology. It includes the onboarding of VNFs from multiples vendors to healing, scaling, update and configuration. With the Identity as service easy to manage the different devices and hotspot telecom used in their network.
Managed Services/VAS/Micropayment/Content Management: CSP Managed services can be hugely benefited from blockchain technology by accepting payment based on cryptocurrency, by developing their own identity manager, by storing data of their all enterprise customer to integrate their notification with blockchain technology. By enabling cryptocurrency CSP can create their micropayment business model without any mediator and use them to sell their VAS and other digital content like caller tunes, music etc.
Wholesale Business/ vendors and partners: Blockchain can provide information shared manner in a secure way, it will also help to settle inter carrier settlement very quickly in very transparent manner which brings more confident and trust towards their partners. Cryptocurrency can also be used for payment purpose and block chain technology also prevent any fraud in payment settlement.
IOT, 5G and other emerging technology: Smart transaction, smart connection, smart contracts and identity management will change the course of IOT implementation. Nowadays authentication of IOT devices is very big challenge for CSP also their current bandwidth and capacity is not sufficient to provide current growing IOT solution. Billing is also challenge for IOT devices. With blockchain enable technology it is very much possible to provide the authentication to the device, get the history of all connected device built trust between partners and generate billing in very transparent means.
Roaming Solution using blockchain technology.
In Current scenario if a user roaming in some another country, the user will get register in Visited Public Mobile Network (VPMN) and CDR (Call detail records) will generate from VPMN. Each service which is requested from customer will route from VLMN to Home Public Mobile Network (HPMN) for authentication and detail of the accessible service.
The CDR has been sent by VMPN to the HMPN as TAP (Transfer account Procedure) file. DCH (Data clearing house) another third party system involve in this procedure and HMPN have to settle all the payment to VPMN according to agreed roaming traffic between two parties.
There is always been trust issue between two parties. Settlement is very long procedure. If there is any fraud happened it will take very long time to identify because there is no control of HMPN over it.
Solution Using Blockchain:
Blockchain can definitely solve this issue of telecom service providers. There will be smart contract (roaming agreement) between both the parties both operators involve in mining of transaction and HMPN can get real time CDR as its generates from VMPN. With the help of smart contract whenever CDR generate can be generate the bill by HMPN.
Blockchain has very high potential in telecom industry, as competition is increasing it is very much necessary to build trust between different stakeholder in this ecosystem. Telecom industry is depends upon many external ecosystem to drive its business, blockchain technology will remove unnecessary external system from their ecosystem . Capex and Opex will gradually decrease and blockchain technology will assist this domain to manage emerging technology very efficiently. Telecom industry not going to remove its current system but slowly they will enhanced their present system to support blockchain and they will gain benefited from it.