IBM could work with telecommunications companies to offer blockchain solutions

BENGALURU: International Business Machines (IBM) is looking to work with Indian telecommunications companies to offer blockchain solutions that can be used in mobile number portability (MNP) and "Do Not Call" (DNC).

"We have completed proof of concepts and pilot projects with all major telecommunications providers and with Trai in this space," said Sriram Raghavan, vice president of IBM Research. "We anticipate that, as we enter the new year, we will begin to see the blockchain solutions being launched." He did not name the telecommunications companies.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and telecommunications providers have collaborated with technology companies such as IBM to learn how the blockchain could address multi-party coordination issues related to Do Not registries Call and number portability. Everything from the customer's consent to the DNC service to the fact that consent is respected is recorded on blockchain, Raghavan said.

"This gives Trai, as a regulator, greater visibility and timely malfunctions," he said. "Mobile number portability is also a multi-party process that involves at least two telecommunications providers in which blockchain can play a role."

Trai completed a review of the demonstration of concepts on blockchain, or DLP (distributed ledger) technology in February. After evaluating what was possible with DLT, the regulator came out with a series of regulations in May. The next step in this process is that telecommunications service providers select IT providers and configure headsets with the Trai guidelines.

"We had a meeting (Monday) and telecommunication service providers are now in the process of aligning their suppliers," a Trai official said. The companies promised to implement DLT-based systems in the next two months, the person said. The Do Not Call register would be the first to move to DLT. Blockchain, emerged for the first time as the system behind the popular bitcoin cryptocurrency, is a collection of digitally distributed records in which each person or entity on the network has a copy of the ledger. All participants must agree to make changes.

But unlike public blockchain networks such as bitcoins, IBM and other businesses use blockchain private networks that aim to enable sharing of sensitive corporate data between trusted parties. One way to think about it is that "a private network involves a group of people and the public network is out there where anyone can join," Raghavan said. "You can also have public networks authorized, here, the network is open to the public, but you can not simply download a code to merge it in. You have to be authorized, sometimes these two dimensions get mixed up."

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