One of the most important drivers in ushering in the fourth industrial revolution– Industry 4.0– is 5G technology. Enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine type networking, and ultra-reliable low latency communication are the three major use cases for 5G technologies. This means that providers would have to deal with problems like network coverage and durability, data integrity, and stability, as well as the need for decentralized architectures (for compute, storage, and security). Furthermore, data protection and autonomy are becoming more important to the troika of users, regulators, and governments.
Hardware (chip and sensor technology) and applications (AI/ML and AR/VR) advancements are paving the way for the Industry 4.0 revolution. However, blockchain is one of the core innovations that merit further R&D in the telecommunications and networking space. We can’t ignore the fact that using blockchain technology presents several problems, including efficiency and scalability issues, as well as safety and security concerns.
5G Network Coverage and Reliability
Operators will need to be able to effectively handle those ultra-dense networks to meet 5G small cell density specifications. In a self-organizing network setup, blockchain networks can allow for safe peer-to-peer connectivity with base stations in a network or even relay network output data to be used for AI algorithms to better control and optimize radio access networks. Some improvements to the network can be implemented using blockchain-enabled smart contracts or a rules engine in SON that was set up before configuring or upgrading the network configuration.
Integrity and security of data
For various AI algorithms, blockchain may serve as a stable archive of data/transactions. The data from which AI learns is just as strong as the data from which it learns. Consensus algorithms, the immutability of blockchain transfers, and cryptography-based encryption will all contribute to data privacy and security. The use of blockchain in the healthcare industry for safely saving and exchanging patient data is well known.
Smart contracts can allow business-oriented applications such as billing, by providing an immutable record of a user’s communications with the network (s). It can also manage automatic network resource-sharing settlements between various telco networks.
Owing to its distributed structure and peer-to-peer network characteristics, blockchain lends itself well to decentralized architectures. This may be the single most compelling explanation for many people to assume the blockchain is a forerunner of a modern, more user-centric internet (in comparison to the model today). We won’t have to recall different identities (usernames and passwords), and users will have more say of who has access to their data. People will have a single id that will allow them to enter networks from different operators without being connected to a single one.
For 5G edge computing use cases involving vehicular networks, public blockchain models may be used to allow the exchange of vehicular and traffic details. This will be seen as a fast and permanent record for settling car insurance cases.
The requirement for a large network of IoT devices to connect with millisecond latency in settings such as smart cities and UAV fleets can be met through blockchain-enabled control and authentication of such devices.
Although the platform and its future applications are exciting, blockchain also needs to address the problem of scalability before it can be used effectively in telecom networks. The robustness of smart contracts will have to be checked on a scale that networks like Ethereum have never seen before. Interoperability between various blockchain networks or frameworks must also be defined. The usage case of blockchain for auto insurance settlement is an example of collaboration between a diverse group of stakeholders, such as car suppliers, insurance agencies, operators, networking service providers, and regulators.