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The UK’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) is reportedly exploring the possibility of using blockchain technology to manage phone numbers. In an announcement made on its official website on October 9, 2018, the regulator revealed that the application of blockchain technology within its remit could potentially make it easier for people to switch between providers and block spam calls.
Ofcom’s Proposed Blockchain Enhancement
Ofcom, which carries out regulatory and oversight functions for the UK broadcasting, telecommunications, and postal industries, has reportedly received £700k (nearly 1 million USD in funding from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to support its efforts to see how blockchain technology can make phone number management more effective.
There are roughly one billion landline telephone numbers in the UK that are active or awaiting allocation, therefore managing numbers, especially moving them efficiently in and out of circulation is generally a Herculean task. Ofcom says that the current system of managing these numbers will face increasing difficulty as telecoms networks migrate from analog telephone lines to infrastructure based on IP (internet protocol), which is cheaper and offers better voice quality.
The use of blockchain technology will enable it to manage a phone number’s lifecycle more efficiently. The regulator also says that blockchain deployment can substantially improve the customer experience of migrating a number between telecom providers as well as reduce regulatory and business costs and help improve the tracking and management of spam calls and fraud.
The distributed and decentralized nature of a blockchain’s ledger, which gives each node uses a copy of the entire database allows for greater transparency since all users in real time can see all updates.
Workable Solution or Hype?
While this sounds very good in theory, some observers are not convinced, due to the idea that lower costs and increased flexibility because of blockchain implementation does not necessarily always play out the way it is presented.
These have engineered spikes in their stock prices by merely finding a way to tie in the term “blockchain technology” with what they do. According to this school of thought, there is no evidence that Ofcom has the institutional capacity or will to implement blockchain technology in its operations genuinely, so this could be the use of a buzzword to obtain funding.
Regardless of what the actual situation is, it is essential to bear in mind that if indeed Ofcom does go ahead with plans to integrate blockchain technology into phone number management, it is a process that will take years to come to fruition. It first has to pass through a testing phase before eventually being shared with other government institutions and other organizations in the communications space.