Blockchain Telecom Use Cases: When Streamlining Complex Operations Becomes a Priority

Blockchain Telecom

The seminal Bitcoin paper written by the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto has introduced a novel technical concept whose usefulness goes well beyond cryptocurrencies, blockchain. 

Blockchain is basically a shared distributed ledger, and each user of the associated network has a full copy of it. Once a transaction is made, it is first validated to make sure it is legitimate, then a block corresponding to that transaction is created. Now, since the transaction is visible across the network and several entities (miners) may have prepared a block for it, a consensus needs to be reached to determine the state of the ledger and who gets to add its block to the existing chain.

Normally, proof of work is used to achieve that task. To clear any misconception, blockchain is not analogous to bitcoin although cryptocurrencies where the first applications of such technology. However, all use cases adopting blockchain technology can benefit from the same inherent features it provides. 

Companies operating in different areas have made the leap to benefit from the intrinsic properties of the blockchain, mainly security, immutability, transparency and control, to streamline their operations. Telecommunication paradigms have considerably evolved from mere voice and data service provision into creating a holistic connectivity among mobile subscribers and other things through internet of things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) applications.

Such radical shift has had a major impact on the network operations as the number of connected devices, the amount of data being shared, and the complexity of the resource management operations have suddenly increased.  Blockchain technology has provided network designers and operators with a new unforeseen avenue to streamline their operations. It therefore constitutes an undeniable asset for such an evolving market

One Technology and a Huge Number of Opportunities

The adoption of the blockchain technology unlocks a myriad of opportunities, and in other terms solutions to existing teething issues.

Telecom Infrastructure Sharing

The current global telecom ecosystem has mandated the deployment of the 5G wireless standard. Operators have been rushing to roll-out and optimize their 5G networks to gain a worldwide marketing edge over competitors. Being the first operator to run a 5G network, utilize a certain band or mode of operation has become a priority for top players around the world. From a technical perspective, the challenges in that context are rather immense as 5G requires a significantly larger number of transmission sites.

However, finding proper adequate locations is not always possible given the large number of already existing sites. The expenditures involved in creating a new site is an unwelcomed addition as well. The recent trend among operators is to share the telecom infrastructure and engage in operations known as sell and leaseback practices. This considerably reduces costs and enables a better optimization of the deployed network. 

As the requirements (resources needed) and the existing entities of each operator are different, a blockchain can be used to optimize the transactions between the operators and infrastructure management entity. The service level agreements (SLAs) between operators can be stored as a smart contract on the distributed ledger. 

Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine Applications

The explosion in the number of connected entities has increased the challenges in the development of secure IoT and M2M solutions. When it comes to such services, two main problems arise, the trust between devices coming from different vendors, and the integrity and security of data being exchanged. The authentication and authorization schemes enabled by the use of a blockchain as well as the guaranteed data immutability pave the way to large scale IoT and M2M networks. As an example, Matter, previously known as the Connected Home over IP project (Project CHIP)  is a standard that will rely on a blockchain to ensure interoperability between IoT devices originating from different vendors. 

Fraud Prevention and Improved Operations in Roaming Services

Roaming has been a key enabler of worldwide connectivity as subscribers can continue to use their SIM card abroad over the visitor operator’s network for some additional fees. The billing process is governed by the agreements established between corresponding operators. As such, a huge number of roaming transactions need to be maintained to settle the roaming fees among operators. A blockchain can automate the process as transactions can be securely added to the chain, once a subscriber establishes a connection outside his home network. Another layer of security can be implemented by using a permissioned blockchain which is only available among a specific number of parties. By adopting blockchain as a technology, fraudulent subscriber behavior can be avoided. By automating roaming transactions, the usual delay in roaming data exchange is reduced. Fraudulent activity resulting from identity theft, SIM cloning, among others can therefore be detected more easily. 

Telecom Cryptocurrency

Telecom operators have been relying on third-party payment networks such as Visa, MasterCard, Swift, banking or even cash payments. Blockchain and its first adopter, cryptocurrencies, have the possibility to change the way telecom-related transactions are made. Each operator can use its own currency for its subscribers to complete various transactions. The safest bet is on a class of coins called stablecoins. A stablecoin is a cryptocurrency which is pegged to an external reference such as a fiat currency, a commodity such as gold or other cryptocurrencies. Stablecoins offer a good tradeoff between the inherent security of cryptocurrencies and the relative small volatility in the valuation of fiat currencies.

Using cryptocurrencies can go beyond simple financial transactions. Cryptocurrencies can be provided by operators to subscribers to actively participate in network operations. Coverage extension of beyond 5G networks can be achieved when subscribers agree to act as relays. Another side effect of such relaying mechanisms is to improve the quality of service of different users in the network. To convince subscribers to participate by relinquishing their unused allocated bandwidth or processing power, the operator can pay them back through its established cryptocurrency. This currency is then stored in the recipient’s wallet and can be later use for specific transactions. 


Blockchain has been a disrupting technology offering notable security-related properties which are much needed in today’s data-driven operations. Telecom is among the sectors which relies heavily on the data being exchanged among network entities. The advent of 5G has unlocked a large number of use cases that could welcome blockchain to optimize their operations. The adoption of this technology is certainly increasing. In the near future, chain-related technologies would certainly become among the core components of wireless networks.

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