China Telecom envisions numerous applications for blockchain to roll out 5G technology. Liang Wei, who heads up the telco’s blockchain laboratory, spoke to China’s Securities Daily. He outlined the potential for blockchain to help, especially with revenue sharing, billing and payments.
5G has enormous capacity and is envisioned as enabling a whole new raft of solutions, especially for mobility, IoT and other connected applications.
“The deployment of trillions of nodes, the interconnection of all things, and the provision of services to each other pose new challenges to data security, data value, and exchange transaction models,” said Liang Wei.
“Blockchain can be used to solve data security and value exchange problems in IoT applications, and has become an important underlying technology to promote the development of IoT applications.” He said it’s estimated that blockchain in telecoms will exceed a billion dollars by 2023.
The antenna used in 5G have a relatively short range at one mile (1.6km), one tenth of the range of 4G. Hence it requires many more antennae – Liang Wei predicted trillions of them.
So one of the first roles that Liang Wei sees for blockchain is to enable crowd sourcing to fund the roll-out of 5G infrastructure. The technology would enable revenue to be shared with trust and transparency.
Secondly, mobile phone companies or mobile network operators (MNOs) need to share 5G infrastructure. Blockchain could enable more efficient and safe 5G resource sharing and usage tracking by using smart contracts and automatic payment.
On a similar vein, international roaming can be made more efficient using blockchain by using automated billing and payment. Numerous telecoms blockchain projects are exploring the billing of roaming, not necessarily in a 5G context.
5G networks heavily use the concept of network slicing, which involves splitting the network architecture into slices for particular use cases. For example, some applications might require higher speeds. Others might need lower latency. Blockchain smart contracts could be used to negotiate slicing contract terms autonomously and enable automatic billing and payment.
As mentioned, 5G is seen as an enabler for IoT. Blockchain offers specific advantages in terms of enabling trusted identity and providing an immutable log of activity for IoT devices.
Last year China Telecom published a whitepaper entitled “Blockchain Smart Phones in the 5G Times“. It outlined plans for a blockchain-based wallet to store private keys on a phone’s SIM card.
Today we reported on a Korean blockchain digital identity platform for autonomous driving. The digital identities of self-driving cars will be verified using blockchain, as part of a smart city platform that uses 5G.
There are already numerous 5G blockchain applications in process. Last month, telecoms service provider Syniverse launched a 5G blockchain platform it developed with IBM. It focuses on multi-party billing and payments, which potentially could apply to MNOs, roaming and specific applications. Syniverse gave the example of a venue for a football match enabling multiple streams to be shown inside the stadium. The billing between all the parties could be managed using blockchain.