As the world shifts from one generation of technology to another, the applicability of blockchain technology only becomes more clearly revealed. The recent advent of 5G technology shows a perfect match with blockchain.
When cryptocurrency and blockchain technology launched in 2009, no one ever imagined the application of the technology beyond the realms of digital currency, but that has totally changed. From medical to legal and to air travel, the application of blockchain technology is expanding at an unprecedented rate.
A 2017 report titled “Blockchains in Mobile Networks” said the technology allows seamless provisioning between unrelated access nodes and devices through smart contracts, and such technology could cut down costs and increase the competitiveness of companies.
If successfully applied, blockchain technology can significantly improve the next generation of internet connections, thus, allowing for decentralized ownership and investment in cellular towers. This will make it possible to crowdsource money for building up blockchain-based 5G infrastructure.
Another prominent advantage of blockchain implementation for building 5G networks is its potential for international roaming. Presently, roaming network services involve numerous intermediaries including local telecommunications companies, brokers, exchanges for converting currencies etc. Blockchain allows automating many processes, making cooperation between intermediaries traceable and transparent. Therefore, any user will be able to check how much traffic one used and how much one is to pay for it.
At the same time, some intermediaries like currency exchanges would be excluded from the system, for blockchain will allow automating payments using cryptocurrencies. In its turn, it might even reduce the cost of using 5G networks. On the obvious plus side is also the fact that the entire system will be decentralized, so no party involved will be able to corrupt it in any way.
Actually, the potential of blockchain might go even further beyond 5G networks. For instance, China Telecommunications Corporation, “China Telecom” for short seems to agree with the truth about blockchain technology and mentioned the possibility of releasing blockchain SIM cards (BSIMs).
Other countries from Spain to the Americas and to the UK, telecommunication companies have all concluded that blockchain is a building block of the 5G infrastructure. So it seems the only issue that has left to solve is practical development and implementation of this new infrastructure.
Despite some progress in the field, integrating blockchain with 5G comes with its own challenges. The first and major issue as of now is blockchain scalability. In simple words, the technology is too slow to be implemented in 5G networks as is. That is why developers research all aspects of blockchain including sharding techniques, block size increase and consensus algorithms in order to make it faster and applicable for the next generation of the Internet.
Another big issue is interoperability, for various 5G operators would apply various blockchain platforms of those available today. The task is to make the new infrastructure interoperable with all these platforms, otherwise, it would be impossible to deploy a blockchain-based 5G scenario globally.
Among other issues, researches also name the legality and vulnerability of smart contracts that are also used within the 5G blockchain, lack of standardization and regulations, cost of transactions and cloud infrastructure which can be significantly higher, data privacy etc.
However, most researchers and developers realize that in a world drifting quickly towards complex technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Services powered by 5G, blockchain forms an integral aspect of the development. While blockchain is still being actively researched to optimize all possible issues and flaws, it is clear that the technology got far beyond cryptocurrency long ago.