There’s little doubt that, alongside 5G and the IoT, Blockchain is now one of the most talked about technologies in the mobile market. That’s hardly surprising because, like those other hot technology topics, there are so many different potential applications and benefits of Blockchain.
We believe Blockchain technology can help improve both operational efficiency and the customer experience – particularly with regards to roaming, but also within some other areas of the service provider’s business.
For example, in one current live trial, Mobileum is looking at using Blockchain to guarantee that accurate Caller ID information is transferred across international voice routes. Too often, the Caller ID is lost (or in the case of fraud sometimes deliberately changed) as calls transit international networks. A wrong or missing Caller ID often leads to a call not being answered or might mean that a missed call cannot be returned.
In the roaming market it’s particularly important that Caller ID is always accurately displayed, especially when someone travelling abroad wants to call home and update their family about their wellbeing.
To overcome this, we have been looking at how Blockchain could accurately transfer call information out-of-band and then re-associate it at the destination network, just before delivery. This would guarantee that the correct originating Caller ID is always displayed.
We have other trials focussing on different areas within the roaming market both in terms of triggering new services for customers, and also improving service provider operations.
One potential service we are investigating would enable a travel operator to bundle international roaming with a tour package just like flights, hotels, or sightseeing tours. Blockchain would automatically activate the roaming bundle on the date visitors arrive in the country.
Blockchain could also speed financial settlements between operators. Currently, the clearing houses that manage roaming charges typically take two days to clear data records, with charges usually settled monthly. Using Blockchain, data records could be available to both operators in near real time giving each of them immediate financial visibility of their position.
That same type of solution is also being tested for in-country interconnect charges between fixed and mobile operators. Once charges are agreed, Blockchain can rate, match, price and settle them in near real time without any dispute between the parties.
For operators, Blockchain does have the potential to be a very flexible and powerful tool to underpin business efficiency or to support new and existing services. Turning that potential into fully-tested business solutions and services has been a prime focus for our research team and now for our live trial deployments.