Ofcom, the telecommunications regulatory authority of the UK, has received a grant of Pound 700K to explore the use of blockchain technology for management of landline numbers.

Using Blockchain for Telecom

The Office of Communications, also known as Ofcom will leverage blockchain for better management of landline numbers in the UK. Ofcom is the government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries of the United Kingdom.

To explore the use of the technology the regulatory body has been granted Pound 700,000 by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Ofcom plans to invite experts from industry, academia and blockchain space to work together on the solution. The announcement was made on the Ofcom official website earlier on Monday.

Blockchain technology uses a decentralized distributed ledger to record the history of transactions. The records which are stored in a continuous chain of blocks are immutable, making the blockchain immune to hacking or fraud. Ofcom intends to use the technology to maintain the telephone numbers as digital assets.

Expected Benefits

Currently, Ofcom manages close to one billion landline numbers. These numbers are either already in use or reserved for allocation. The regulator issues blocks of numbers to operators who manage these numbers and their lifecycle including installation, disconnection and porting.

The authority is moving from an analog-based traditional infrastructure to a VOIP (Voice over internet protocol) one and needs to upgrade the existing systems. By implementing a blockchain based system for management, Ofcom expects multiple benefits including lower cost of operation, faster execution, better tracking, improved customer experience and better management of spam calls.

According to the announcement, attempts at creating a centralized database have failed due to the high costs involved and the barriers to collaboration. The regulator expects better transparency and reliability using the new system as well as the provision of real-time updates for the customers.

Mansoor Hanif, Ofcom Chief Technology Officer, said: “We will be working with industry to explore how blockchain could make it quicker and easier for landline customers to switch providers while keeping their number – as well as reducing nuisance calls. And we’ll expand our research into other areas where innovative technologies such as blockchain could be applied to benefit consumers.”

Best Practices Will Be Shared

The regulator intends to capture learnings from the pilot test before rolling it out across the industry. On successful implementation, the authority will also share the best practices and the technology with other regulators. The project is likely to be a good experience for the telecom operators and will help them figure out more use-cases.

In your opinion what other use-cases can be explored for blockchain in the telecom sector? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of ShutterStock

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