Report | 5 November 2018

Distributed Connectivity – The Blockchain-enabled Future of Telecommunications

This white paper explores the breadth of blockchain’s impact on the telecommunications industry. The author presents a framework for evaluating use cases, actionable ideas for blockchain implementation, the risks and limitations of blockchain technology, and a path forward for telecom managers

This white paper, brought to you by the Brightline Initiative and the Blockchain Research Institute, explores the breadth of blockchain’s impact on the telecommunications industry. The author presents a framework for evaluating use cases, actionable ideas for blockchain implementation, the risks and limitations of blockchain technology, and a path forward for telecom managers. “The best blockchain solutions in telecom have yet to be discovered, so the winnings are still there for the taking by motivated managers and organizations.”

Idea in Brief

Both technology and market power in the telecommunications industry appear to be distributing. Networks are transitioning from large towers to small nodes, as fifth-generation wireless technology demands network densification.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has redefined the world, device, and atomized the connectivity needs of an average consumer or corporation; and network function virtualization and software-defined networking promise to make networks adaptive and decentralized.

Simultaneously, the competitive dynamics of the telecom industry—particularly, but not only, in the United States— have radically shifted with the rise of mobile virtual network operators, voice over internet protocol (VoIP), and disruptive, emerging players.

Telecom executives need to prepare for a future in which connectivity is distributed, democratized, and decentralized. In that future, blockchain—a protocol built to manage decentralized systems of value—may play a leading role.

This research seeks to approximate the breadth of blockchain’s impact on the telecommunications industry by developing a framework for evaluating use cases, exploring actionable ideas for blockchain implementation, examining the risks and limitations of blockchain technology, and proposing a path forward for those telecom managers convinced of blockchain’s promise.