The Digitisation Agenda of CSPs Meets Enterprise Grade Blockchain

Communications service providers are responsible for the underlying communications infrastructure on which our businesses and personal lives are delivered and enriched. These networks are the fundamental enablers for, and they provide the essential fabric across which, the services we consume are delivered, ecosystems are established, and communities interact.

Yet, despite the increased numbers, volume, frequency, capacity and criticality of communication flows, communications service providers are challenged to maintain, expose and monetise the value they are providing.

Some of this is attributable to substantive change across the industry and adjacent sectors. Some a consequence of the commercial models embedded in legacy systems. While the introduction of new technologies like Software Defined Networks, Network Functional Virtualisation, 5G and the Internet of Everything offers great opportunity but also results in an environment that features significant change, considerable uncertainty and that is operationally challenging.

Digitization has to be part of the solution to realise this opportunity. The inclusion and application of new technologies, where business assets, business data, and business logic are shared offer a path to increased certainty, accuracy and efficiency … and enables commercial innovation as a consequence.

Delivering Digitisation with Blockchain

Here at R3, we are starting to see communications service providers and their ecosystem leverage Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology as a means to digitise elements of their businesses: providing the ability to respond rapidly to new requirements, creating and generating new opportunities, introducing operational efficiencies, and enabling the ecosystems and supply chains with which they operate.

For R3, as a distributed ledger software provider who build and support the Corda platform, there is considerable resonance with the path communications service providers are traveling and the path the financial services industry has followed — which is our heritage, the source of our specific experience and the driver for our development of a rigorous, scalable, enterprise-grade DLT platform.

For the financial services industry, the digitization opportunity presented by blockchain and distributed ledger technologies drove a review and validation cycle that was led by R3 for a small number of banks back in 2015.

That initiative validated the conceptual argument with regards the possibilities blockchain offered for data certainty and surety, reconciliation and settlement automation, while also identifying a further set of opportunities … but, critically, concluded that an enterprise-grade platform suitable for a highly regulated industry was absent.

As a result, R3 in participation with an increased number of banks and other institutions developed an opensource distributed ledger platform named “Corda”, and enterprise-grade “Corda Enterprise”. Today that platform is supported by several hundred members and partner firms, with code evolution through a growing opensource community in combination with R3’s own engineering resource.

Corda and CSPs

We see a number of synergies between an enterprise-grade distributed ledger platform like R3’s Corda and the digital requirements of communications service providers for tools that integrate with their services. In particular, the scalability, security, privacy, resilience and performance attributes and the regulatory requirements are consistent with the operations supported by communications service providers.

Corda has been built because we believe markets are moving to a digital future where counter-parties collaborate, where records, data, and systems are shared, where duplicates, reconciliations, and failed matches are things of the past, and assets are no longer trapped in silos but free to be exchanged over a distributed network.

This is resonating strongly with communications service providers who want to drive i) baseline communications across both fixed and mobile platforms, ii) business digitization and efficiency — both internally and externally, and iii) additional, adjacent, opportunities to provide complementary services and expose opportunities with new and emerging technologies.

As a consequence, we are building on the work being done by organizations on the Corda platform for communications service providers to explore and develop a range of CSP use cases that support the initiatives and elements above. Initial efforts have been exciting and demonstrative of the value in digitizing CSP businesses — as a consequence we are looking forward to the next stage; a broadening and deepening of these engagements.

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