Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone Use Blockchain for Roaming Settlement
Three global industry leaders in telecommunications — Spain’s Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom, and British provider Vodafone — have collectively finalized a trial blockchain solution for the settlement of roaming discount agreements. Developed by blockchain startup Clear, the solution is anticipated to decrease capital costs for telcos, promote faster revenue recognition, and provide a more effective settlement for their inter-company deals and workflows.
Both Telefónica Innovation Ventures and the Telekom Innovation Pool of Deutsche Telekom had partaken in a $13 million Series A investment for Clear earlier this year to promote the startup in creating its blockchain settlement system.The finalized trial solution included a system for automated settlement for roaming data from the three providers for 2019. Application of the system enabled Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone to get yearly settlement results “within minutes” and to have real-time and multi-party insight into data discrepancies. The providers were also capable of updating or amending data on the system instantly.
Johannes Opitz — vice president of commercial roaming services at Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier — explained in a statement the advantages of utilizing the blockchain solution for an evolving global telecoms infrastructure, “Roaming discount agreement reconciliation is a complex, costly process prone to errors […] Using Clear’s solution; operators will now have the ability to transact seamlessly with an ecosystem of partners — a crucial ability in the 5G and Edge ecosystem, in which we foresee significant growth of operators’ business relationships and business models.”
The three telecom giants call on other providers to join the network of users of Clear’s solution, believing that automated roaming settlement will offer a boost for new business associations to promote the new services required for technologies like 5G, Edge computing, and Internet of Things ecosystems. Clear’s co-founder and executive chairman, Eran Haggiag, said in a statement that “initiatives from leading industry bodies such as the GSMA [Global System for Mobile Communications] and the GLF [Global Leaders’ Forum] are now pushing for industry adoption across multiple use cases.” He noted that the solution could guarantee control, security, and privacy for contract settlement between firms.
The CEO of Vodafone Roaming Services, Sherif Bakir, similarly tied the system to the future roadmap for telecoms infrastructure, in a statement, “With new, more complex technologies like 5G and IoT being introduced, even more radical innovation in roaming will take digitalization to the next level. Vodafone believes blockchain is the solution, and its use will lay the foundation for further sustained innovation. Clear’s solution is a solid demonstration of blockchain’s benefits.”
Blockchain and top telcos
Distinctly, all three telcos have made inroads into blockchain implementation before turning to the technology for inter-operator roaming agreements. Teléfonica declared a collaboration with the Association of Science and Technology Parks to grant about 8,000 firms access to its blockchain. It has also previously allied with Microsoft and IBM on blockchain applications.
In fall 2019, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom launched a German Blockchain Ecosystem for enterprise clients, and the telecoms provider has also collaborated with South Korea’s largest wireless carrier, SK Telecom, on producing a blockchain-based mobile identification solution. This March, Vodafone declared it was exploring a blockchain-based digital identity platform to verify its suppliers across its value chains.