SoftBank-led Carrier Blockchain Study Group accepted LG’s wireless division LG Uplus and a number of other members earlier this week, the Japanese tech giant announced Friday in Barcelona where its subsidiary Sprint and other telecom giants will be participating in the 2018 edition of Mobile World Congress taking place Monday through Thursday. South Korean KT, Spanish Telefónica, Filipino PLDT, and Etisalat from the United Arab Emirates also joined CBSG as part of its latest expansion wave, having agreed to collaborate on exploring opportunities in the blockchain segment in an effort to create a global cross-carrier platform based on the emerging technology.
While blockchain is often associated with cryptocurrencies, the two terms aren’t interchangeable, with the former being a technology meant to enable public digital ledgers with a heavily decentralized structure used for recording transactions in a manner that doesn’t allow for spoofing or hacking because all changes to the library are simultaneously being verified by numerous computers connected to a single network. The clients are programmed to trust each other equally but not the network in between them so even if a single client is compromised and alters a transaction in a manner that isn’t allowed, whether by being hacked or e.g. trying to complete a purchase it can’t fund, the rest of the computers connected to and verifying the ledger ignore its request. As such, blockchain is touted as a next-generation technology capable of doing everything from securing transactions and authenticating identities to proving property ownership, conducting equity swaps, registering copyright, and managing medical records. In essence, if there’s digital information involved, blockchain can be implemented into any platform in order to reliably store and verify it whenever required.
As such, the technology has vast implications for a broad range of industries, wireless included. SoftBank established CBSG last September and is seeking to create a universal, carrier-agnostic platform for delivering various services to wireless customers, from IoT applications and identity authentication to bill payments and secure settlements. Later this year, SoftBank and Taipei-based telecom Far EasTone will test a blockchain-powered mobile wallet meant to support roaming in Japan and Taiwan. The consortium is ultimately seeking to spearhead the blockchain revolution in the wireless industry on a global level, though it has yet to share many details on its efforts.