Colt explores blockchain to settle payments between telecom operators

Telecoms and data centre services provider Colt has announced a proof of concept (PoC) to assess whether blockchain can help solve the problem of payment settlements between operators.

The initiative was put together alongside PCCW Global and Clear, a company which ‘builds blockchain-based wholesale services clearing and settlement platforms for entire industries, and the economies that support them’, in the firm’s own words.

During the recent Pacific Telecommunications Council annual conference, the PoC was able to settle payments for inter-carrier voice traffic in less than 60 seconds – a process that could otherwise drag on into weeks and months.

Part of the trial involved all parties implementing a bilateral private blockchain to record transactions which would be reported to a public blockchain. Smart contracts were then used to complete the process, recording settlement transactions and resolving disputes.

If all goes well, the stakeholders hope to introduce a cryptocurrency model where operators could move to a token-based credit environment rather than exchange cash to settle transactions.

“It is our goal to create a more agile, customer-oriented organisation, and one way in which we are doing this is by exploring the benefits of disruptive technologies such as blockchain,” said Carl Grivner, Colt chief executive officer. “Collaborating with PCCW Global and Clear is ground breaking, as we have demonstrated how blockchain can transform the way we conduct business in the telecom industry.”

This marks an interesting use case in how blockchain can influence the telecoms industry. This publication first mused upon the idea in 2016, focusing on issues around identity – the idea of trust, a key feature of blockchain technologies, being similarly vital to telecoms providers – with payments an idea in the distance.

Writing for this publication in November, Rajat Kochhar, wireless, Wi-Fi and wireline networks consultant at Ericsson, asserted that fraud management, IoT and M2M connectivity, as well as identity, were options for the industry. “It is expected that within the next few years, the use of blockchain technology by the telecommunications industry will become more widespread and eventually become the norm in services like identity management, and registries to start with,” Kocchar wrote.

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