Leading Lights 2020 Finalists: Most Innovative Blockchain Strategy

CSG, Jio Platforms, PCCW Global and Whale Cloud make the shortlist for this year's Leading Lights award on blockchain strategy.

Iain Morris, International Editor

July 20, 2020

4 Min Read
Leading Lights 2020 Finalists: Most Innovative Blockchain Strategy

While most of the planet is still trying to figure out what blockchain means and does, the distributed ledger technology is beginning to show up in a telecom setting, where it holds out the promise of cost savings and new revenue streams. A handful of companies have made the shortlist for this year's Leading Lights award for the most innovative blockchain strategy.

The Leading Lights winners, and the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees, will be announced online, on August 21, during a special video presentation on www.lightreading.com, one month before the start of the Big 5G Event.

Figure 1:

Here are further details about the shortlisted entries for most innovative blockchain strategy:

The Colorado-based software company set up its blockchain lab about a year ago, with the idea of exploring new applications for the technology in areas like routing, roaming, and fraud management. Since then, it has teamed up with groups including the Global Leaders' Forum (GLF) and the Global Settlement Carrier Group (GSCG) on the development of a blockchain ecosystem. The ultimate goal, it seems, is to come up with a kind of blockchain hub for service providers and operators.

It's an effort that could eventually end some of the clashes between carriers and service providers over billing invoices and other partnership arrangements, CSG reckons. With a blockchain hub, contracts could live in one location as what CSG calls "a single source of truth." By reducing fraud, data entry costs and invoicing disputes, that could put an end to the disagreements that have dogged parts of the industry.

Jio Platforms
Since it burst onto the Indian telecom scene in late 2016, Reliance Jio has built a reputation as one of the world's most exciting and technologically advanced operators. Parent company Jio Platforms is now looking to make waves in the blockchain market with the rollout of a new platform last August that allows transactions to be processed across distributed data centers in the Jio network.

The system is based on what Jio calls a vDLT-N (virtual distributed ledger technology network), which is activated across various nodes. It is aimed mainly at supporting transactions that involve multiple stakeholders, especially when they have to share information. Jio says it is also working with Indian regulatory authorities on different use cases for the technology, including spam management and mobile number portability. The operator is also looking into smart energy management across different energy sources at its basestations, and it might use the blockchain system to support mobile banking services. The system is currently operating in the Microsoft Azure cloud, according to the operator.

PCCW Global
Blockchain is usually associated (conflated, even) with crypto-currency or token-based retail transactions. Not for Hong Kong's PCCW, whose international wholesale arm is pitching it as a way to automate voice and roaming settlements, as well as data-on-demand lifecycle management, in the wholesale telecom market.

The company says it is preparing to launch a new blockchain platform that will reduce inter-carrier settlement times from weeks to minutes. It has teamed up with Colt Technology Services, another service provider, and a blockchain start-up called Clear on the project. And a proof of concept has already shown how effective blockchain can be in this area, it claims. Tens of thousands of call records were analyzed and settled in just a few minutes, says PCCW. Hundreds of hours of manual work were reduced to seconds of "automated verification and settlements." Most impressively of all, it managed to automate a task that would usually take about 30 employees at each operator about six weeks to accomplish.

Whale Cloud
A part of China's Alibaba, Whale Cloud has developed a blockchain-based data-sharing platform that allows communications service providers to share data with enterprise customers from sectors such as banking, insurance, and technology. China Unicom already appears to be using the service to support about 1,000 enterprise customers from more than 20 industries, including 74 automotive companies responsible for around 15 million connected cars.

What's so good about the system? Well, it means a user could authorize a financial institution to obtain credit data from China Unicom's platform, says Whale Cloud. That would speed up the process for customers and allow banks to run their background checks much faster, as well. It also provides a new revenue stream for China Unicom through a charge per API call, says the Alibaba subsidiary. Similarly, using the data-sharing platform, a connected car could obtain a user's itinerary via from, say, a concert ticket booked online. Users could be sent reminders or warned about traffic jams if they set off too late.

— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Iain Morris

International Editor, Light Reading

Iain Morris joined Light Reading as News Editor at the start of 2015 -- and we mean, right at the start. His friends and family were still singing Auld Lang Syne as Iain started sourcing New Year's Eve UK mobile network congestion statistics. Prior to boosting Light Reading's UK-based editorial team numbers (he is based in London, south of the river), Iain was a successful freelance writer and editor who had been covering the telecoms sector for the past 15 years. His work has appeared in publications including The Economist (classy!) and The Observer, besides a variety of trade and business journals. He was previously the lead telecoms analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit, and before that worked as a features editor at Telecommunications magazine. Iain started out in telecoms as an editor at consulting and market-research company Analysys (now Analysys Mason).

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