By Mathews Thomas, Amandeep Singh, Janki Vora, Luca Marchi, Utpal Mangla, Mike Alexander, Sharath Prasad | Published January 14, 2019
Part 1 of this series gave you an overview of some of the challenges facing telecommunications and media companies, and we presented high-level use cases of solutions built on blockchain that can be created to solve these challenges. Here in Part 2, we provide an overview of a blockchain platform architecture that’s relevant to a communications service provider (CSP) environment, take a deeper dive into some of the earlier use cases, and examine a specific solution that can help you understand how all of the key components come together to provide tangible benefits to the CSP.
This section provides a high-level overview of the blockchain reference architecture, as well as a sample implementation of the architecture for specific use cases.
Figure 1. Overview of the blockchain platform architecture
The key elements of the platform:
Figure 2 provides additional technical details on the architecture for each of these layers.
Figure 2. Architecture details
Here are some key points to consider when defining the blockchain architecture specifically for CSPs:
Figure 3. Reference architecture – simple implementation
The key components of a simple blockchain implementation:
Two common problems with CSPs are fulfilling roaming contracts among CSPs and identifying fraud with subscriber authentication across roaming networks. CSPs can use blockchain to address these problems.
This solution includes smart contracts that govern the transactions between the CSP acting as home operator and roaming partners to track the activities of mobile users on the network:
Some key business values of this solution include:
Figure 4 illustrates the high-level architecture for this solution.
Figure 4. Solution architecture
The following is a high-level overview of how the key players interact with each other using blockchain:
Two other common challenges for CSPs are seamlessly porting numbers across multiple carriers and conforming to regulatory requirements. And again, blockchain can be used by CSPs to address these problems.
This solution includes smart contracts that govern the transactions among users, the donor CSP, and the recipient CSP in the mobile number portability scenario. The solution gives the regulator visibility into the process. The smart contract applies the rules and parameters set in each market by the regulator:
This solution provides key business values to the various players, including:
Figure 5 is a high-level architecture of the solution.
Figure 5. Mobile number portability solution architecture
This solution uses IBM Blockchain to enhance and streamline the business process of advertising sales for linear TV broadcasting. It demonstrates how blockchain can promote trust and remove friction throughout the supply chain. The demo focuses on the following scenario:
The traditional ad sales process shown in Figure 6 is complex and involves multiple players who have their own systems of record.
Figure 6. Traditional ad sales process
With blockchain, the new process looks like Figure 7.
Figure 7. Blockchain-based ad sales process
The scenario shown in Figure 8 illustrates how the process flows between different participants that are managed through a blockchain smart contract.
Figure 8. Blockchain smart contract process flow
Developing this solution requires several components, including blockchain, a UI, and integration with various back-end systems. What follows is a brief overview of the UI and blockchain components.
Figure 9 is the view of the UI for this blockchain solution.
Figure 9. Blockchain solution user interface
It shows different views for the various participants: The advertisers are Big Blue Television (broadcaster), GSC Advertising Co. (ad agency), AMS Motor Co., and Netherlands Brewing Co.
The block diagram shows the simulation of information flow and consensus between the participants and the shared ledger when any transaction is triggered.
In Figure 9, the broadcaster Big Blue Television has released an inventory for TV ad spots available for advertising agencies to buy. You can see a list of programs whose ads may be sold. The UI uses REST APIs from Hyperledger’s REST server to get data and trigger transactions to the blockchain chaincode. All the transactions are governed by the rules in the blockchain smart contract and are immutable once they are finalized after consensus from all participants.
The underlying blockchain model is used with the following asset, participants, and transactions:
As an example of a transaction trigger and flow, here’s what happens after the broadcaster releases its ad inventory:
We have provided a high-level blockchain platform architecture, expanded on a few use cases from Part 1, and taken a deeper dive into a specific solution to give you a better understanding of how TME solutions can be built on blockchain. In our next article, we will build on this work to show how different external components can be integrated into the platform architecture so that an end-to-end solution can be built using blockchain.
Let's dive into the challenges faced by TME companies, the benefits of blockchain to a TME company, and some of…
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