This paper surveys and categorizes blockchain use cases relevant to the cable ecosystem and then discusses key design factors in implementing appropriate blockchains. But first, it explains some basic principles and concepts of blockchains and distributed ledgers. The paper ends with some discussion about important concepts regarding these use cases, many of which are unique to blockchain.
Blockchain networks and distributed ledgers are explained through five important concepts:
- Authoritative history – blockchain networks have the ability to keep track of history with high integrity.
- Identity management and anonymity – blockchains are decoupled from identity management, but may require it.
- Event synchronization – distributed ledgers in a blockchain network can keep track of the order of events.
- Traffic flow measurement and message flow – blockchain networks can be used to enhance networking overall.
- Information reliability – once in the blockchain network, information is very difficult to change; but until it’s in there, anything could happen.
The use cases explored in this paper can be organized into these categories:
- New and direct revenue – ways operators can generate new sources of revenue from this technology.
- Cost optimization – techniques to reduce costs of providing services using blockchain.
- Customer experience – methods to enhance the customer experience through use of blockchain.
- Reduce ecosystem friction – applications of blockchain that simplify what is otherwise complex.
To support these use cases, several important security and reliability concerns must be addressed:
- Identity, authentication, and authenticity of transactions and participants.
- Node and ledger distribution and redundancy.
- Network scale and performance considerations.
- Governance and code management.
- Attack vectors as a reliability problem.
- The meaning of reliability in the context of blockchains and distributed ledgers.
Readers are assumed to be familiar with blockchain topics. Background information may be found in 3.
This paper uses both the term blockchain and the phrase distributed ledgers. This use may seem synonymous; however, the authors view blockchain as a cryptographic network technology that produces distributed ledgers. This is an important distinction. Not all use cases require the relatively heavy assurances that blockchains entail but may still benefit from a distributed ledger.