September 4, 2018
Colt, often at the vanguard of new technology deployments, has invested considerable time and effort during the past year in figuring out how blockchain technology can help boost operational efficiencies, improve customer experience and open up new revenue opportunities. And now it's looking at how the distributed ledger technology, best known for underpinning cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, could make SDN interoperability easier to manage.
The operator, which has been amongst the leading pack of Carrier Ethernet, SDN and NFV exponents over the years, announced in March this year that it was working on a proof of concept (PoC) with fellow operator PCCW Global and Clear, which develops blockchain-based settlement and clearing systems for enterprises based on Ethereum, an open source blockchain-based platform that features smart contract functionality.
The PoC focused on how blockchain could be used to automate the inter-carrier settlement of international wholesale services and, as the PoC developed from using historical data to the ingestion of live data feeds, it quickly attracted attention and involvement from other operators, including BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Hutchison Global Communications Ltd. (HGC) , Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) and Telstra Global . (See PCCW Global, Colt Expand Blockchain Trial.)
Inter-carrier settlement was a good place to start with telco blockchain as it met the key criteria for the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT), notes Mirko Voltolini, Head of Network on Demand at Colt Technology Services Group Ltd , who notes that blockchain should only be used where appropriate.
"Blockchain is a database and could be used for many things, but if you don't need the particular attributes of a distributed ledger technology platform -- such as distributed trust -- then you're better off using a regular database," notes Voltolini.
"The carrier environment is one that requires a great deal of cooperation, with multiple carriers buying from and selling to each other, and that requires settlement. Anything that involves multiple operators and that requires trust between the operators and which is done manually, such as settlements for wholesale voice traffic, then you can do it using blockchain," he adds.
Figure 1: Colt's Mirko Voltolini: "Anything that involves multiple operators and that requires trust between the operators and which is done manually, such as settlements for wholesale voice traffic, then you can do it using blockchain."
So what is the status of the settlement PoC? Louisa Gregory, chief of staff who is responsible for strategic execution at the operator, says Colt is "working with Clear and the other carriers to check what is possible," and that can take time as each operator has its own security and legal teams that need to be involved and make their own checks.
The operators involved will take further steps at the next ITW Global Leaders' Forum (GLF) meeting in October, says Gregory. "There is a GLF working group deciding what might happen with a resulting solution -- there has been no decision yet. The steps being taken with the GLF start with bilateral, then move to multi-lateral and then an industry-wide solution under the GLF for voice settlements in the 2019-2020 timeframe. Members are keen to ensure it works across multiple carriers," she notes.
You May Also Like
SCTE® LiveLearning for Professionals Webinar™ Series: Going to 10G & BeyondJul 26, 2023
Cable Next-Gen Business Services Digital Symposium 2023Jul 26, 2023
SCTE® LiveLearning for Professionals Webinar™ Series: Priming the Pump for Next-Gen PONJul 26, 2023
Open RAN Evolution Digital Symposium Day 2Jul 26, 2023