Blockchain and 5G are the two technologies that will anchor the digital future, an executive at China Telecom believes. Liang Wei, who heads the company’s Blockchain and Digital Economy Joint Laboratory, stated that blockchain can accelerate the growth of 5G, especially with billing and payments, network sharing and more.
In an interview with China’s Securities Daily, Wei stated that 5G will revolutionize the world, especially in regards to IoT and mobility. However, its deployment faces a number of challenges. He remarked, “The deployment of trillions of nodes, the interconnection of all things, and the provision of services to each other pose new challenges to data security, data value, and exchange transaction models.”
Blockchain technology can solve most of these challenges, Wei stated. 5G antennas have a short range, roughly one mile, which is less than a tenth of their 4G counterparts. This necessitates the deployment of ten times more antennas in the 5G network, a very expensive undertaking. Blockchain can help telecom companies crowdfund for the deployment of these antennas. The revenue generated would be shared in a transparent platform, enabled by blockchain.
Blockchain would also make it easy to share 5G infrastructure between the mobile network operators. The payments would be automated using smart contracts and digital currencies, curbing any foul play.
Blockchain would also come in handy in international roaming, allowing for automated micropayments.
5G technology will accelerate the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). With billions of interconnected devices sharing data autonomously, security will be a key challenge, one that blockchain can alleviate.
Wei stated, “Blockchain can be used to solve data security and value exchange problems in IoT applications, and has become an important underlying technology to promote the development of IoT applications.”
China Telecom is the country’s largest fixed-line service and the third-largest mobile telecommunications provider. Together with the other two major telecoms, they have invested greatly in 5G rollout. According to the company’s estimate, China will have over 170 million mobile subscribers on the 5G network.
The use of blockchain in telecommunications in China is expected to soar in the next five years. Allen Li, the founder of QLC Chain, a startup that develops decentralized mobile network protocols stated,
“In the next three to five years, we can expect to see more than 60 per cent of telecoms services use blockchain technology. Blockchain will not only help telcos lower operational costs for things like user identification, billing and content delivery network, but it will serve as the best solution to improve network security.”