A F M Imamul Hoq Bappi, Head of Technology, skitto Grameenphone Ltd.
In this article we will see a brief overview, in terms of pros & cons, of the emerging blockchain (underlying core technology of popular bitcoin) along with its prospect in Telecom sector.
Why is it important: Blockchain refers to a unique chain of blocks where each block is responsible for meaningful information and can be used as a technical backbone for many applications. A concept known as distributed ledger. Some properties of blockchain holds the key to groundbreaking revolution such as trust on data source based on decentralized concept, extreme measure on data manipulation, default data redundancy, high authenticity of historic information, getting rid of middleman/aggregator etc.
Key Challenges: It’s important to know at this stage that this technology is still evolving and it’s not matured enough. There are not enough reference applications and it’s not suitable for extreme datasets. There’s lack of expertise in this field across the globe and finally the eco system is also not fully ready yet to connect with existing legacy-based telecom applications. But it’s important to stay up to date with this technology as it could make radical impact for many businesses as well as the telecom sector.
Targeted sectors & Roadmap Plan: Few sectors like finance, agriculture, health, judiciary, e-commerce, supply chain etc. are well positioned as potential candidates to adapt to blockchain technology and set the roadmap in terms of short, mid &long-term goal. Short term goals should be set to create awareness, build the infrastructure, gain the right expertise, establish POC center within 2 years, prioritize the sectors and the then build applications case by case as per mid and long-term goal. How important it is for Telcom operators : I personally believe that there is no immediate need to jump on this technology by migrating existing applications or building new ones considering there will be no major cost optimization, performance improvement (in some cases latency will be even higher) or USP as of now. But we can start the assessment to replace some aggregators using this in the coming days to get rid of the middleman cost. Roaming clearing house (DCH) could be a potential candidate to start with. Also, some kind of POC in collaboration with government initiatives can take place based upon right cost & technology assessment to build a Telco’s own infrastructure so that they can make immediate impact innear future to get ahead of their competition.
Final thought: For different blockchain applications, keeping the public addresses & private keys would be a big challenge for many 3rd world country citizens. Telecom operators should come forward and take significant steps to develop blockchain based applications in coming days and find right balance along with other cutting-edge technologies like 5G, IoT, ML etc.