Telecom giants jointly test blockchain solution for automating roaming discount agreements

Four global telecom giants – Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile US, Telefonica and Orange – are jointly testing a blockchain solution that aims to automate the management of inter-operator roaming discount agreements.

According to a press release, the trial is being carried out in collaboration with the GSMA. This marks the first time that operators are jointly testing a blockchain solution that incorporates a corresponding legal framework, governance model, and integration into corporate IT infrastructures.

The production-ready solution was initially designed by Deutsche Telekom Laboratories (T-Labs) and Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier. It has been developed using Hyperledger Fabric, an open-source blockchain solution backed by the Linux foundation.

Deutsche Telekom said that the solution drastically reduces the complexity of the current process, which involves generating, signing and manually implementing inter-operator roaming discount agreements.

In addition, the solution provides a new layer of trust, ensuring that the agreed-upon terms cannot be subsequently changed or tampered with. It also allows a holistic, analytic view of agreements, thereby enabling further automation of the roaming wholesale workflow in the future, for example settlement processes between operators.

“The inter-operator workflow in roaming has been basically unchanged for the last 20 years. In the near future however, new services like NB-IoT, LTE-M or VoLTE and other quality-based services will drastically increase the complexity of inter-operator discount agreements and respective settlements,” said Rolf Nafziger, Senior Vice President of Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier. “This blockchain-based solution is the start of automating sections of our workflow. It will put us in a position to handle the additional complexity while increasing overall efficiency.”

John Calian, Senior Vice President and Head of T-Labs, Deutsche Telekom’s innovation unit, said that the solution is scalable, meaning that IoT devices and new emerging business requirements can be easily accommodated in the future.

Plans are currently underway to open-source the code, so that the blockchain solution can be freely used by the industry at large.

Last October, Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, Telefónica and Vodafone conducted blockchain trials with Clear, to explore the potential of the technology to “deliver instantaneous and frictionless commercial roaming processes between hundreds of mobile operators around the globe.”

Prior to that, Syniverse and IBM successfully trialed a blockchain-based mobile roaming solution with two international telecommunication companies, Orange and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS).

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