Yesterday Deutsche Telekom announced that with three other telecoms firms, it’s testing a production-ready blockchain solution. The solution helps to draft and sign inter-operator roaming discount agreements.
The participants are Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile US, Telefonica, Orange and the GSMA. Every telecom company has numerous agreements with others for roaming, and a blockchain enables a definitive source of the current agreement terms which cannot be tampered with.
The solution combines a legal framework, governance model and integration with IT infrastructures. It was developed by Deutsche Telekom’s Innovation unit T-Labs and Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, but it plans to open source the Hyperledger Fabric solution for use by the industry.
“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 minimized,” said John Calian, SVP and Head of T-Labs.
The platform focuses on carrier legal agreements rather than the even messier settlement process. Consider that every time you roam with your mobile, there’s potentially a charge between your home provider and another telco. Extrapolate that across the world, and there’s a lot of inter-carrier charges. But the legal agreements are an important starting point.
Hyperledger also has a telecoms interest group which is working on a proof of concept for settlements as part of Hyperledger Lab.
Other telecoms blockchain activity
Along with Vodafone, both Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica are working on another project for an intercarrier payments blockchain. That solution is being developed by startup Clear, and last week both the telecoms giants revealed an investment in Clear’s $13 million Series A.
Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and Orange are also members of the Communications Blockchain Network (CBN), which formed last June. It boasts numerous other telco firms such as China Telekom, Colt, PCCW, Tata, Telstra and others as well as major enterprise blockchain companies and telecoms software providers.
IBM is a participant of both CBN and the Carrier Blockchain Study Group initiated by startup TBCASoft, Sprint and Softbank. It’s also developing a Cross-Carrier Payment System.
In Asia, South Korean telco KT Corp is working with China Mobile, the world’s largest telecommunication firm on a blockchain roaming charge system.