The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has received a grant to explore blockchain technology to improve the country’s landline phones.
Ofcom, the United Kingdom Office of Communications, has been offered a grant of £700,000 by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to examine the potential of blockchain technology when it comes to improving the country’s management of landline telephone numbers.
Speaking about the initiative, the technology officer of Ofcom, Mansoor Hanif, said:
We will be working with industry to explore how blockchain could make it quicker and easier for landline customers to switch providers while keeping their number – as well as reducing nuisance calls. And we’ll expand our research into other areas where innovative technologies such as blockchain could be applied to benefit consumers.
Cost effective future-proof solution
According to Ofcom, previous attempts to have a centralised database have not succeeded, owing to high costs as well as barriers to collaboration. However, blockchain technology provides an opportunity to develop a future-proof solution that’s cost effective.
Trials to Begin April 2020
To explore how blockchain could benefit the industry, Ofcom will be inviting industry participants to test the management and porting of millions of UK landline telephone numbers using blockchain and ledger technology, starting April 2020. The regulator will be coordinating examinations across the industry, including third-party providers and universities.
Benefits expected to be achieved by deploying blockchain
According to Ofcom, the UK has around one billion landline telephone numbers, some already in use, and others reserved for allocation. The regulator usually issues blocks of these landline numbers to telecom operators that are tasked in managing and porting them.
Moving the existing management systems to blockchain, as per Ofcom, will help improve customer experience when they wish to move phone numbers from one provider to another, lower business and regulatory costs, increase industry agility, and better manage fraud and nuisance calls.
Ofcom also cites that blockchain allows for better transparency between the involved parties, with each user being able to get a copy of the numbers database and any updates made by a telecom operator in real-time.
Knowledge from testing to benefit other organisations
The knowledge gained from this trial project won’t just benefit the involved organisations. Considering that Ofcom will have to undertake various testing before rolling the technology across the industry, it will share the best practices, key learning, and underlying code base with other regulators in the UK where applicable.