Blockchain first emerged into the public eye with the introduction of Bitcoin, a digital currency created by a person or group known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. Now blockchain has been adapted for multiple other applications, starting with a predicted revolution of how the finance industry runs certain actions. By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, this technology has created the support for a new breed of internet.
The blockchain network exists in a state of consensus, automatically checking itself every ten minutes, creating intervals known as blocks. Benefits for all industries when accounting for this include:
Transparency: Due to data being embedded within the network it is therefore publicly accessible, keeping everyone involved in data transactions up to date.
Incorruptible data: Altering any unit of information on the blockchain means overriding the whole network, something that requires a huge amount of computing power to perform and also leaves a digital footprint which is traceable.
Looks good! But what does this mean specifically for telecom?
It would mean in short, the constant availability of fully up to date information, meaning better tracking of customer’s activity and a better provision of services for the customer with the scope to further developments and advancements as this technology grows.
I see. So is anything occurring in the telecom industry with blockchain right now?
Of course! A number of telcos are already adopting this technology in order to gain a foot hold ahead of competition. As of February this year, Sprint, Du, Testra and Orange to name a few, all have projects in motion with some dating back to 2015. This rush to set up must be sending alarm warnings to those who are slower to pick up on this opportunity. The capabilities of Blockchain are already extensive with further room to develop in the future and those that begin to embrace the technology now will have less problems competing over the next few years as this technology really begins to take hold of the industry.
So what are some specific opportunities for telcos? And how are they really helping develop business?
The introduction of blockchain would mean a new method of accessing information which brings improved convenience for customers. An example of this would be the ability of customers to have a recognized identity on all of the telco’s partner websites. This is implemented through the provision of telco subscribers with an “eSim” which then creates a virtual identity that is encrypted and stored in a blockchain, which would be used to automatically authenticate identities on partner websites.
The convenience factor of this for the customer is that there is no need to continuously provide personal details to different service providers when setting up new accounts, and also maintaining the same level of information across all accounts, for example having the same personal information on Facebook as LinkedIn, meaning easier access and also more information available to telcos if an issue arises for which they need specific information to solve.
On top of identity, this service provides a data storage outlet with verification services. Subscribers would now be able to use this to keep data such as digital certificates of achievements or employment which would make applying to a perspective employer that much easier. This also helps prevent identity fraud through blockchain’s creation of virtual identities, requiring an encryption key known only by the private owner in order to access relevant information.
On the subject of fraud, something that has plagued the telecommunications industry with a cost of $38 billion annually, blockchain has an answer. Roaming fraud, which occurs through individuals actively avoiding payment for use of roaming services, is made possible due to delays in time between individuals accessing the mobile network (Visited Public Mobile Network) when roaming and that data being passed to the subscriber’s telecom provider (Host Mobile Public Network) in order for them to bill the relevant charge. This delay allows perpetrators to avoid payment due to billing time delay. Blockchain in this scenario would set up a micro contract with network users requiring permission from relevant HPMN and VPMN parties to enable roaming. This would be constantly sending data from the individual user to their subscribed network provider, allowing immediate calculation and charges to take place.
Even with 5G, blockchain has a part to play. Telecom providers would have the ability to provide reliable 5G services by connecting 3GPP and non-3GPP access networks through blockchain networks where each access point serves to monitor devices within the network. The device can then use these to determine which access point will provide the best service.
This all sounds pretty revolutionary. Is the world really ready for this?
Well legally speaking, not quite. As is often the case with any advancement of technology, blockchain technology is being developed and implemented at a faster rate than the existing legal framework can be adapted, meaning there is some faltering while new laws are being drawn up. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of regulation of blockchain technology, one should note that the principles of contract law and existing legislation (such as the Data Protection Act and consumer rights law) will need to be complied with from the outset. And some alterations may be required to accommodate how some blockchain networks are implemented to ensure compliance. These changes will be easier to cater for if the relevant issues are known and understood early in the process.
However, that is not stopping companies readying themselves for when it does become possible to implement. It is thought that within the next few years, the use of blockchain technology by the telecommunications industry will be more prevalent and eventually become the norm, meaning a massive alteration to how we interact with networks and the responses we’d get, and possibly the dawn of a new age of network technology!
So what qualifications/abilities would I need?
It seems that the most popular profession would be Polygot software engineers (those with the ability to code in a number of languages). So for those of you who can handle the likes of Java and C++, you are hot material for prospective employers!
Any idea of a salary?
If salary is a big thing for you. In this line of employment, a startup will typically pay between £40-60k for someone without experience who would then be trained. Once trained however, doors open with big corporations such as major telecom provider salaries for example, starting at around £100,000 for a developer with five years of experience or more, and can reach up to £150,000 in some cases.
Amazing! Can I be involved in this process?
If you are up to the challenge, then of course! As this technology is still being developed, there is a continuingly growing opportunity for employment as companies are looking to hire blockchain developers.
If you are interested in seeing what opportunities are available to you please submit your CV to us and we will be in contact!