The Big Telcos Are On The Blockchain

Blockchain technology offers telecoms companies a valuable tool, and it seems that they have been quick to pick up on its value.

As Benjamin Pirus writes for Forbes, AT&T, and T Mobile are both working with the technology in various ways. Pirus writes, “Blockchain has made a name for itself as the technology underpinning bitcoin, allowing the transfer of value without middlemen. The work of these telecom giants shows that what enterprises think of as “value” is much bigger than just currency alone.”

AT& T is applying blockchain to the supply chain for its handsets. Its CEO, Andy Daudelin, told Pirus that the technology is particularly useful for handling “handset returns, upgrades and other activities seen on the supply chain.”

Daudelin explained: “AT&T’s supply chain is collaborating on a blockchain solution with a major handset OEM [original equipment manufacturer] and a handset remanufacturing supplier. The solution will ensure that only authentic, certified parts are used in the device remanufacturing process.” He added, “addingblockchain to the mix also allows for better traceability of components used in remanufactured devices.”

AT&T is also interested in the blockchain’s security aspects and it is in the process of growing its “Internet of Things [IoT] presence and solutions,” with the intention to involve smart contracts in the mix, as its VP of information security, Karthik Swarnam told Pirus. He also mentioned the potential for using blockchain in the area of “verification of device identity.” And of course for checking the software to ensure no malware is lurking. He described it as “checking on the checksums” for authentication, and the “ability to store the checksums on a blockchain, where, at the time of use, you could go ahead and check and compare and verify whether you can trust that piece of code, trust that piece of software, or not.”

Furthermore, AT& T has been developing a suite of blockchain solutions for its enterprise customers and is working with IBM, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services on this. Daudelin said: “What we do here is deliver your traditional blockchain solution. What we add to that is we’ll customize it and write the code specific to that use case, and we’ll add to that our network and IoT [Internet of Things] capabilities.”

As an example, Daudelin says that AT& T is working with a bottling company to “add notable specifics and clarity to that company’s supply chain, utilizing “IoT sensing” for its bottles.”

Furthermore, in May 2019, AT& T announced that its customers could pay their online bills with bitcoin, via bitcoin payment service BitPay.

Daudelin summed up AT&T’s general view of blockchain:

“As our world moves from highly centralized hierarchical processes to very decentralized processes, blockchain enables companies to deploy solutions that remain highly secure and that you can count on them in this very decentralized decision making the world.”

According to recent research, it appears that the telecoms sector is one where blockchain technology is going to grow at a rapid pace. A March 2019 reportfrom Infoholic Research stated: “The global blockchain in telecom market is expected to witness a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 77.9% to reach revenue of $1.37 billion by 2024.”

Perhaps it will get even bigger?

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