Four telecommunications companies in Europe are conducting trial runs of blockchain applications that will allow them to improve the intricate process of managing roaming service agreements with other service providers. The companies in question are some of the world's largest providers of wireless communications services: Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, and T-Mobile. The Global System for Mobile Communications Association, better known as the GSMA, is the coordinating entity for this pilot program, and it hopes to turn it into an open-source application so that other telecom firms can use it in the future.
Even though roaming service agreements are currently drafted and executed by means of digital processes, their actual implementation and settlement are largely done in manual fashion. The current process often results in disparities and disputes because of mistakes or willful manipulation. Over the last two decades, telecom companies have not done much to improve this process, and this could become problematic with Long Term Evolution networks being deployed around the world.
Using the distributed ledger and smart contracts functionality of blockchain technology is something that engineers Deutsche Telekom Laboratories have been hoping to implement for years. There are multiple aspects being handled within this project; compliance, governance, administration, and automated management will be developed into a standard that all telecom providers will be able to deploy in their corporate networks.
Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica are the two major investors in this project through their respective brands, T-Mobile and Movistar. The two companies hold considerable positions in Clear, a tech startup dedicated to developing blockchain solutions for telephone companies. The two blockchain platforms that support this project are Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric.
Most of the work carried out by Clear Blockchain Technologies thus far involves smart contracts for global settlements. One particular aspect of their work is centered on the Internet of Things and its rapid expansion. With new IoT devices coming on the market, some manufacturers need to strike agreements with 5G network operators to guarantee that their products will always be online when user travel away from their homes or workplaces. This kind of contract is more complex that traditional roaming agreements, and this is a god example of when the aforementioned project will be very useful.