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Although many challenges will need to be resolved before operators can exploit the full potential promised by blockchain, wholesale automation is looking like a plausible benefit for the future.

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What could the impact of blockchain be?

An article published recently in the Harvard Business Review explained that blockchain is a lot more than simply a disruptive technology to be exploited by the few; instead, it has the potential to become the technology that underpins our capabilities and services, and it could have a huge impact on industries such as wholesale telecom over the next 20 years.

This is reminiscent of the early days of TCP/IP, the protocol behind the internet itself and all cloud-based services, which started slowly but developed into a revolution over several decades. In telecoms, for example, initial attempts to dislodge the incumbent circuit-switched networks with IP solutions were painfully slow and dogged by problems with quality. In fact, this switchover is still taking place 20 years later.

How could this assist wholesalers?

It will be a slow process, but blockchain certainly has the power to unlock wholesale automation. At present, the voice wholesale business relies on the exchange of data documents between carriers, from rating and settlement to call timing and invoicing, which is very inefficient and prone to human error. Blockchain could replace this long-winded manual process with a real-time, error-free, automated process. Using this technology, data is valid and unchangeable once it has been created until the point when it is altered and given a fresh operative timestamp

The rate sheet, for example, would be written in the blockchain, and secure access would be given to contracted customers. A “smart contract” could be calculated in real time with charges for call minutes terminated and would be able to show how much is owed between one party and another. Everything from pricing data and routing to invoicing and settlement could be validated and automated, leading to massive improvements in efficiency and accuracy whilst making fraud, bad debt and non-payment much less likely.

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Existing wholesale voice termination providers, such as https://www.idtexpress.com/, may be able to take advantage of revolutionary improvements in just about every aspect of their business.

This is a fascinating time for the telecoms industry, and the future looks to be written in the blockchain.