Blockchain technology has the potential to redefine business processes and work flows within the telecoms sector – but is the industry ready for a radical change in strategy?

As the carrier’s industry looks for ways to reduce costs and boost revenues, advances in blockchain technology could provide a host of opportunities, according to a panel of industry experts.

Chairing an exclusive key note panel session at the Carriers World event in London this week, Isabelle Paradis, President of Hot Telecom said that blockchain technology had the potential to revolutionise the sector.

"Blockchain has the potential to generate greater efficiency and increase revenue streams for carriers, if not today then certainly further down the line," she said.  

The blockchain sector is projected to be worth $61 billion by 2024 and inevitably a number of carriers are exploring strategies for implementing blockchain solutions in the telecoms sector.

"The question that we have to answer is whether blockchain is the next big thing or just a buzzword," she said.

There is undoubtedly potential for blockchain to transform work flows in the sector, according to Dr Cathy Mulligan, Visiting Researcher at Imperial College London.

"Blockchain allows you to completely redefine your entire business practices. It is going to really affect carriers in the telecoms sector and will certainly reduce the number of workforce man hours.

The most obvious application for blockchain in telecoms is in a settlement and clearing function, according to Francisco J Santos, head of Wholesale Services at Telefonica.

"Blockchain will allow you to automate a whole range of settlement, clearing and financial applications. It allows carriers and telcos to build a network backbone network that will allow them to offer the services of tomorrow.

The application of blockchain in telecoms is still in its infancy and some experts believe that the biggest barrier to the rollout of more wide ranging blockchain solutions is a lack of foresight in the industry itself.

"The biggest barrier to all of this is the 3GPP Roadmap. The 3GPP Roadmap, and other standardised roadmaps for progress, have driven this industry for years. As soon as you ask CEOs or CTOs to think outside of those parameters, you run into problems," said Dr Mulligan.