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Global blockchain-based settlement platform planned for telecoms

Plans for a blockchain-based settlement platform for the world’s largest telecommunications groups were announced earlier this week.

The launch of the Communications Blockchain Network (CBN) was made by the International Telecoms Week (ITW) Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF), a network of leaders of the world’s biggest wholesale telecom carriers who debate strategic issues and collaborate on activities.

The new network is promoted as potentially revolutionising the information and communications technology (ICT) service provider industry’s commercial settlement infrastructure

The CBN is expected to go live over the coming months and will be governed by a collaborative industry-wide framework. Eleven major carriers have agreed to support the establishment of the platform: A1 Telekom Austria, China Telecom Global, Colt Technology Services, Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, IDT, Orange, PCCW Global, Tata Communications, Telefonica, Telstra and New Zealand’s TNZI.

The GLF is also partnering with leading technology providers to develop the reference architecture and support the creation of an open, interoperable ecosystem for both ICT service providers and technology vendors. Technology providers who have already confirmed support for the platform include IBM and the R3 consortium, as well as Orbs, ConsenSys, Amartus, Clear Blockchain Technologies, CSG and their wholesale business, Difitek, Internet Mobile Communications, Subex, Syniverse, and TOMIA.

A collaborative framework

Utpal Mangla, vice president and partner for IBM Global Business Services, says that the CBN will first create a collaborative framework through various technology and business vendors from the multiple providers, enabling consensus to be built. When the network is live, telecom and IT carriers can then choose specific vendors they are comfortable working with.

The new network’s objective is to serve the wider ICT community by avoiding fragmentation, thereby accelerating the adoption of automated settlement applications, while facilitating the development of open-source standards and application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable service-provider interoperability.

Louisa Gregory, chief of staff at Colt and leader of the GLF working group on blockchain, said that the GLF and its partners have been working since April 2018 on the platform and believes it is ready to launch. “The blockchain-based ecosystem has been tested with resounding success at every stage, and we believe that this platform signals nothing less than the future of ICT financial settlement,” she told Forbes magazine.

The network will also be distinct in that the technology providers include both specialists in private and permissioned blockchain, such as IBM, ConsenSys and R3 and also public and permissionless blockchain, such as Orbs.

“The fact that there is potential for public blockchain for enterprise use cases is a huge win for the entire market,” Tal Kol, co-founder of Orbs, told Forbes. “We were able to convince the GLF that there is substantial value in a public blockchain for enterprises.

“Our solution was built for enterprise and can facilitate such consortiums while having external, non-dependence, provably unbiased third-party verification, where anyone can audit. Also, Orbs is the only infrastructure provider not represented by a system integrator, meaning anyone can build on top of it.”

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