Bharti Airtel has awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to IBM to deploy a blockchain -based pan India network which will allow the telco to protect its 284 million subscribers from pesky calls and messages
Mobile phone subscribers can hope to have some serious respite from pesky calls and messages, the war against which is being now being taken to the next technological level.
Bharti Airtel has awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to US technology major IBM to deploy a blockchain -based pan India network which will allow the telco to protect its 284 million subscribers from pesky calls and messages, two persons familiar with the matter said.
“Airtel’s consumer will have complete control over what messages they would want to get or block at… the scope of mischief will be considerably reduced, thereby curbing fake transactions and fraud,” a person familiar with the matter said. “It’s a reasonably significant sized contract.”
The commercial deployment is already underway and both companies are expected to meet the regulator’s orders on unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) set to come into effect before the month end, the second person said.
While the deployment will initially help Airtel curb pesky calls and messages, it will also help the operator in Mobile Number Portability, interconnect settlements, supply chain streamlining and content partner settlements, the second person added.
“Going forward, the platform will allow multiple use cases across business and compliance domains that can do the job either more cost effectively or via delivering better customer experience or via creating sources of revenues or a combination of all of those. So, all vital business parameters get impacted,” he added. Airtel did not offer comment on the deployment.
Last July, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had overhauled rules to check spam calls and messages, directing telcos to use blockchain technology to reduce unwanted communications, and mandated subscriber consent to receive telemarketing messages. It also fixed stiff penalties of between Rs 1,000 and Rs 50 lakh per violation in a month on telcos that don’t comply with guidelines to check the menace.
Players like Tech Mahindra, Microsoft and Tanla Solutions have lately claimed blockchain-based engagements with Indian telcos.
“While other players have the intent to be in the space, currently IBM has the commercial pan-India contract in hand. It is part of the platform play which sets the fabric on which we can keep building more use cases,” the first person quoted earlier said.
At the completion of the deployment, the blockchain-based solution will be rolled out the pan-India subscriber base of Airtel.
Blockchain, which came into prominence with the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, is a digital ledger for storing data including financial transactions. The technology decentralises information, which is held in a shared database that can be accessed in real time. Currently, the global market for blockchain is about $500 million and it is expected to grow beyond $7 billion in the next three to four years, as per IBM estimates.
Vishal Awal, vice president – telecom (global business services), IBM India/South Asia said the UCC regulations from Trai resulted in a tie-up between the technology company and its telco partner to develop, implement and scale a “Blockchain / Shared Ledger Technology (SLT)” based pan-India business network.
“This network will shape up to be the world’s first ‘Multi Cloud Telecom Blockchain Network’ – a significant landmark that clearly highlights the modularity and architectural flexibility of the blockchain fabric,” he said, without revealing the name of its telco partner.
Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder of Greyhound Research, said that IBM was ahead of its peers like Oracle, Microsoft, and Infosys and has made a solid attempt at Blockchain by way of establishing industry partnerships to build industry-specific relevance.
“This partnership in specific with Airtel will be a good showcase of IBM’s technology prowess in the space combined with its ability to solve on-the-ground implementation issues by way of onboarding an expert partner,” Gogia added.
The Blockchain opportunity within the telecom domain is poised to grow exponentially across a wide range of regulatory or compliance and business use cases, Awal said. “IBM made strategic investments in blockchain technology from early stages. We have contributed significantly towards the rapid evolution of blockchain fabric. IBM is possibly the only enterprise globally that can provide services across the entire stack of a Blockchain network.”