Telecommunication or Telecom, by definition, is referred to as an act of exchanging information through electronic means over near or moderately noteworthy distances. It is quite broad terminology used for technology such as mobile phones, landlines, broadband, VoIP and broadcast networks. In telecommunications, the data is transmitted in the form of carrier waves through electrical signals that can be modified into analog and digital signals for transmission. It’s then demodulated into its original data form, like images, audio or video. However, there are few reputable providers like Frontier Internet in the telecom industry which plays a key role in delivering high speed internet, phone, and other digital services to consumers worldwide.
Communication is crucial for people around the world, and for businesses form small to large. If communication lines are not imparted correctly then the world is brought to a standstill. Although there are multiple challenges in the telecom sector, the latest initiatives take care of the existing faults and resolve the disputes already taking place.
Here comes blockchain, which is viewed as a technology that carries the potential to shake the telecom industry to its core.
Blockchain and Telecom
Most of us that have heard of blockchain have heard about it through the news or word of mouth and know that it’s the most talked about technology in the world right now.
Blockchain technology is a constantly growing list of records which are called blocks. These blocks are then linked and secured using cryptography. Typically, each block carries a cryptographic hash of the preceding block, with a timestamp and transaction information.
But first we need to understand how this is impacting the telecom industry.
Since the very beginning, the telecom industry has regulated the whole value chain, which includes voice calls and text messages. Only when they started providing sim cards could the telecom providers’ control which cellphone network we connected to since they owned all cellphone networks.
Nowadays, virtual providers can sell you a sim card which is connected to someone else’s cellphone network, and in this scenario, not one single telecom provider owns the entire value chain any longer. Its social media apps such as Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, Facebook and the likes that have taken over voice and text communications from the telecommunication industry.
Disruptions are predicted to arise following the call to not replace the sim card software on smartphones, something Apple and others have already looked into. Eventually, you may buy an iPhone and see Apple negotiating its connection to cell phone networks. Our phones may eventually be able to switch networks depending on price and available capacity on a minute-by-minute basis, which will create a more competitive market and this will have multiple outcomes:
– The increase in Virtual Providers.
– Network providers expect profits to decrease in a more competitive market.
– Telecom is going to lose its last contact point with the end-user.
– To make it more economical, the sim card-less phones shall be transmitting voice and text exclusively as data.
– The network providers are going to shift focus to pure packet-switching networks which transmits data more proficiently than the 3G networks we have today, where a dedicated “line” is always open during connections.
The telecommunication industry is already experimenting with new revenue generating sources. This is where blockchain is going to emerge; not as a disruptor of the telecom industry, but more of a solution to the disruption already on the horizon. It is one of the various tools that the telecom industry could employ. For instance, Verizon is looking forward to using blockchain for the IoT (Internet of Things). In other words, blockchain is going to allow IoT devices to make transactions and trace these transactions and Verizon wants in on IoT.
Future Uses of the Blockchain in Telecom:
Technically speaking, the phones that roam on different networks could be called “micro-contracts.” As described earlier, roaming and autonomous price brokering is going to take place more frequently via machine-to-machine and blockchain technology is already recognized as a contract-verification mechanism. It will be indispensable when Apple and Samsung’s smart agents hold discussions with network providers in real-time.
The blockchain will be able to offer instant authentication, which puts blockchain-wielding telecom providers in position as an exclusive provider for all types of third-party services. Nowadays, smartphone apps are capable of unlocking doors, pay our bills and authenticating us at the bank, and this is just an early stage of the digital revolution.
The telecom industry is now demanding micro-transactions and payments like the phone manufacturers. Blockchain will facilitate the verification of transactions; perhaps the main point that will allow telecom providers to disrupt the payment system.
If we follow telecom diversification, blockchain is just one of multiple technologies in the market that could possibly help telecom companies’ transition into technology companies, Verizon has already publicized this goal. On top of these technological advancements, there are even more incredible ideas floating around, such as micro-transactions that let homeowners systemize their home networks and earn revenue by authorizing neighbors to connect. But then again, this totally overlooks the quantifiable reality of regulating transmissions. We have been led to believe that blockchain technology is relatively slow for the key exchanges necessary for encrypted peer-to-peer communication between end-users, but this reasoning could be wrong.
To be as realistic as possible, in my first bullet point I stated that roaming agreements are micro-contracts that is the reason blockchain disrupts the telecom industry. Nonetheless, this cannot happen without the network provider being in on it because it’s expensive for a new provider to install their own cellphone towers because of high installation costs and unavailable frequencies. This is why blockchain use is going to be a telecom innovation and not a telecom disruption. Plus, the revolution won’t start unless we get sim-free phones.