Clear, which uses blockchain to enable efficient B2B commerce, has released details of multiple blockchain trials with Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, Telefónica, and Vodafone that could deliver instantaneous and frictionless commercial roaming processes between hundreds of mobile operators around the globe.
Traditionally, once per year, roaming partners go through a highly complex and largely manual process to work out what they owe each other for roaming on their respective networks. The trials, facilitated by Clear’s B2B platform, evaluated the technical feasibility of automating this wholesale roaming discount settlement process using blockchain. The process was able to handle a wide range of complex charging models and cut processing times to minutes.
Eran Haggiag, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Clear, said: “This is an exciting step forward towards the digital future, enabling further roaming-related use cases and business models. There is a huge amount of potential for blockchain to automate many of the industry’s manual processes, delivering significant benefits for companies and their customers.”
The three telcos are now looking to work with the wider industry and the GSMA to investigate the potential for an open blockchain ecosystem and consider the future of ongoing financial settlements based on this technology.
HYPE OR REALITY BLOCKCHAIN ROAMING SERVICES
Roaming continues to play a major role in telecoms and although there are many regulatory attempts to make it invisible to the end user, the underlying carriers still need to settle with each other for the value they add, said Steve Heap, CTO from HOT TELECOM.
With 3G roaming, settlement is very dependent on the records maintained by the roaming network provider. In this case, messaging and data roaming session records are shared as files at varying intervals, both to enable settlement and end-user billing. This brings in the risk of fraud and disputes from all parties involved in the roaming session, as well as delays in payment, Heap added.
With 4G/LTE roaming, this differs in the way that the home network can itself see details of calling patterns and data sessions via signaling messages, although the basic settlement methodology remains the same. As a result, roaming fraud, such as making calls to an expensive international destination while roaming with no intention to actually pay for the call, is still significant, even though more rapid transfer of these CDR records can reduce the damage.