FINtech, INSURtech, REGtech, MEDtech and PEERtech, there is no shortage of collaboration in the emergent Blockchain, Distributed Ledger Technologies(DLT), Iot, 5G and Cloud worlds. What about in the Telecommunications World?
The BSS/Billing Systems are still the antediluvian, operators “Achilles Heel”. “Phonecalls” are still being metered on a session-basis (call-distance * time-on-call = session-cost or what AT&T calls “Fat minutes on the network” business model). Like a sea anchor, this is actually slowing progress in this “always-on”, cloud-connected world of data. Just look at the plethora of alternatives to the old “Phonecall”: Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Googletalk just to mention a few.
This session-based charging model also incurs an exorbitant amount of “back-office” clearing of “call records” (CDR’s & IPDR’s in Telco jargon) which are often incorrect or misaligned with contracts. This is exacerbated by multi-national operators with different regional (or country-based) billing consolidation models. Imagine if the FINtech world experienced such discrepancies in the clearing of their transactional records (your money). Mitigating these “clearing issues” would also reduce the global need for the Telecoms Expense Management (TEM) industry as the element of trust is slowly rebuilt within the billing systems. By the way, according to reports, the TEM Market is estimated to be worth $3.43 Billion by 2019.
TEMteam is interested in exploring the possibility of using Blockchains or Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT’s) within the Billing Systems (in the Business Support System (BSS)) of Telecommunications Service Providers. These innovative billing systems would record the Call Data Record (CDR) of each users telephone on a blockchain/(DLT) for that users phone subscription. The CDR is therefore shared (via the shared ledger function of DLT’s) in both the billing system and on the users phone (much like the call logs in phones today).
As a USEcase/example: imagine virtually everyone’s “the end-of-month mobile invoice balancing” effort (professional or personal). You receive an invoice with each of the call records/details and the first thing that you do (upon doubting the activity) is to try matching each of the invoice call records with the Call Log on your mobile phone. You actually walk through a line-by-line matching of the invoice records with the call log on your phone. This takes hours, just to find the problem, then hours more to call centers trying to correct it. Imagine if these records were put on a block chain or a distributed ledger shared between the operator and the user… Where the operator and the user have a shared copy of a single ledger… We have essentially taken out the distrust in the system (and it’s clearing anomalies) and improved customer confidence in the Telco Services.
TEMteam is interested in exploring the theme of TELtech for Telecommunications (if one exists). We are talking about Operator/Carrier-hosted accelerators, not the smaller, “telecom-focused technology companies” that just offer consumer-focused-solutions.
The best article to date concerning Blockchains in Telcos is the first of the “Nine blockchain opportunities that telecoms operators should explore” written by Enrique Velasco-Castillo and pictured below.
Internal processes: OSS and BSS processes (such as billing, eSIM provisioning and number portability databases) can benefit from hybrid blockchains, which have both public and private (intra-firm) facets.
Another article entitled “How telecoms applications can become ‘ripe for innovation’ through blockchain” also makes an excellent point about the benefits of “data protection and data integrity: Citing the example of law enforcement requesting call records about someone… and the ability of Telcos to prove that the call detail records are actually the same as the ones that came out the back of the network.” Interestingly enough, this article quotes the same Mr. Velasco-Castillo mentioned above so the momentum is building.
This concept is not an integral part of TEMteam's core activities, but any TEM company or Telecom Operator interested in strategizing, developing and integrating this idea is welcome to contact us.