The Emerging Impact and Use Cases of Blockchain Technology (2018)

By Sandeep Katiyar, Nokia Bell Labs Consulting

The number of connected devices in the future is expected to reach into the billions with the advent of the IoT, 5G, and the continued proliferation of smart devices. The extensive footprint of Multiple System Operator (MSO) Hybrid-Fiber Coax (HFC) networks will play an important role in rapidly expanding the connectivity of these devices across the globe. While virtualization and Software Defined Networking (SDN) reduce the network architecture complexity and provide a better way of processing and routing data, the security of such architectures to support these billions of devices, data integrity, and content privacy are still under question and will remain a key concern in upcoming years. Blockchain is emerging as a new way to address such security concerns through decentralizing the security construct and letting each connected device fundamentally become part of an overall security architecture.

Given the constant source of interest due to its decentralized secure way of transferring value or information with help of smart contracts or major industry sectors (i.e., telecom, banking, education, health-care, government, etc.), organizations are evaluating the ways in which Blockchain can be adopted in their areas of influence. The first ones are mostly financial organizations where highly-secure transactions play an important role. The core premise of Blockchain is to distribute the whole aspect of application or operation, where the operator 1 provides a simple convenient way to organize, manage and provide services to its subscribers. Figure 1 illustrates the concept of decentralization, where the left sideshows a star topology with centralized authority for the network nodes, and the right side showing network nodes with a decentralized and a distributed configuration. Further, topology, network complexity and its applicability pave a path for the type of Blockchain implementation an operator decides to implement: Private (Enterprise), Semi Public or Public. The reason for opting for a Private Blockchain in communication networks is that mostly all the operations inside a network will greatly impact the transactions between network nodes and will have lesser amount of interaction with an end subscriber until the enterprises use cases like SDWAN gather. That is broadly, until Public Blockchain implementations for uses cases such 3rd party storage services and content services are offered by the operator and need to make the 3rd party provider and subscriber part of the Blockchain.

This paper discusses the impacts and use cases of Blockchain technology in cable architectures and broadly outlines the mechanisms on how Blockchain distributed ledgers and trust mechanism can help protect the integrity of the network.

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