TAMPA, Fla., and ARMONK, N.Y. – Syniverse and IBM (NYSE: IBM) have joined forces to help advance the next generation of mobile roaming solutions with a pilot program that uses open-source blockchain technology to instantly validate new wholesale billing and charging processes for clearing and settlement services.
The Syniverse and IBM pilot is designed to enable “smart contracts” to be coordinated and executed between mobile operators. The smart-contracts capability of blockchain technology helps determine the rules and processes governing each transaction between parties. This capability will help improve customer efficiencies and reduce the friction of doing business, such as for dispute management.
“In today’s age of digital transformation, a business is only as strong as its connections, and this is especially true in the area of clearing and settlement,” said Dennis Meurs, Vice President and General Manager, Transaction and Clearing Services, Syniverse. “With the growth of today’s interconnected networks and emerging online technologies, the future of clearing and settlement lies in the ability to securely clear and monetize any type of connected transaction, whether it’s for roaming, the internet of things, or any other process. In collaboration with IBM, we’ve integrated the power of blockchain to design a pilot that addresses several business challenges, and a solution that builds on Syniverse’s 30-year-plus history of solving clearing and settlement challenges in the mobile ecosystem.”
Working with the IBM Garage to design and build the pilot solution on the IBM Blockchain Platform, Syniverse recently validated it in trials with two international telecommunication companies, Orange Group and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS). Orange Group worked closely with Syniverse and IBM to implement, test, and provide feedback on the solution, and reported that the solution will help increase operational efficiency, especially for call event creation and data exchange, based on the specific steps included in the pilot.
MTS Russia reported that it saw valuable efficiency gains in clearing and settlement for roaming, underpinned by increased operational efficiency, auditability, and smart-contract management. The mobile operator also reported that the solution provided the capability to directly create, validate, and view all agreements with partners using smart contracts.
By securely sharing data and creating a permanent, transparent record of digital transactions in a security-rich environment, blockchain helps pave the way for mobile service providers to operate more effectively within their business networks. For the processing of roaming charges, this provides each participant of the network with the same verifiable proof of events, billable usage or executed transactions.
The pilot is also an important demonstration of the GSMA Unified Data Record (UDR) standard, a new global industry standard for charging settlements designed to address the proliferation of devices that are expected to grow as a result of 5G and the internet of things (IoT). As an example, when a mobile phone user makes a telephone call, an event is generated, which contains information about that phone call, such as the call duration, time of day the call was made, and the number that was called. This data is then converted into a format readable by the billing system. Using the new GSMA UDR format is crucial in supporting the growing number of new charging processes being powered by the high speed of 5G networks and the automation of the IoT. The next steps for the pilot are to extend it to other mobile operators to continue testing and refining it for these new 5G- and IoT-enabled charging processes.
“In an industry that is driven by data, mobile operators will now be able to leverage blockchain to help improve efficiency and settlement times while delivering an enhanced customer experience,” said Utpal Mangla, Vice President & Partner for Blockchain, IBM Telecommunications Services. “Together with Syniverse, we’ve designed a blockchain platform solution that has potential to change the clearing and roaming business processes and enable mobile operators to improve collaboration within business networks and get value from data, which is becoming more vital than ever in today’s quickly evolving technology landscape.”