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Why blockchain is creating impact and gaining buy-in for the telecoms sector

6 August 2020 - Louisa Gregory

It may surprise some observers that large parts of the telecoms trade and supply chain are still administered without much automation, and in some cases are still manual.

As an avid reader and being curious about how the past informs the future, I recently unearthed a 1996 report written by the International Institute of Communications (IIC) that was titled, “The International Telecommunications Settlement Process: What’s needed? Destroy and Replace it or Adjust it?” In 28 pages, the report went on to summarise the multiple and complex systems that exist in supporting international settlements for telecommunications, creating inconsistency and an inability to support “world-wide liberalization trends”. The aspect that I found most interesting was the report’s concluding statement, “It is through reasoned discussion of this important international telecommunication issue in fora such as this that the concerns of all parties will be better understood and where consequently, progress can be made in promoting a more just and reasonable application of this system.”

Twenty-four years after this report was written, the ICT Service Provider sector is still talking about how to make the international settlement of telecommunications more robust and efficient and remove inconsistencies and minimize some of the consequences such as fraud and disputes.

At CBAN, our goal is to enable the communications sector to unlock the value of connectivity by automating the settlement process – we agree with the ICC report concluding statement that it is important to bring the parties together as an ecosystem, collaborating to co-create automated solutions for the digital economy to the benefit of all. However, we also have advances in technology in our arsenal to support this, and blockchain is one such technology that is demonstrating it can achieve efficiency and consistency in the settlement process.

The telecoms sector is starting to bring use-cases to fruition that prove the success of blockchain-based settlement services. CBAN’s origins were a proof-of-concept between Colt and PCCW Global with blockchain company Clear and demonstrated that automated settlement of international voice traffic could be achieved within minutes. Clear also showed similar success in a recent trial with DT, Telefonica and Vodafone for a roaming discount agreements solution.

A recent Capacity Media article, quoting Hugo Feiler of Minima, pointed to the importance of blockchain as a core enabler for the telecoms sector post-COVID, going as far as to call it “…the seismic shift the telco industry needs”. Analysts such as Deloitte have also reported on the importance of blockchain as a future feature to the CSP value chain in their 2016 Monitor Deloitte report “Blockchain @ Telco”.

Ensuring we can work collaboratively to accelerate innovation is at the heart of CBAN’s purpose. We are at the beginning of defining the future of connectivity together and we welcome everyone to join us and play a role in establishing these standards to achieve interoperability and unlock the future of connectivity.

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