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Reimagining telecommunications with blockchains


CSPs should take a long-term view as they consider how blockchain can help drive revenue growth and platform business opportunities.

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Across industries, organizations are exploring blockchain’s potential impact in their space and how they can benefit from this emerging technology. The communications service provider (CSP) industry is no exception.

The biggest questions for CSPs, however, are “Where is the bang for the buck?” and “Where and how do we get started?” The good news is the opportunity to benefit appears real. The core attributes of blockchain’s shared ledger approach help provide trust, security, transparency, and control across the participating ecosystem for all points in a transaction process. This results in the potential for lower costs, faster throughput, and improved experiences for all players.

According to our recent global consumer survey, CSPs typically are among the most trusted organizations for handling personal data and securing privacy—even exceeding the trust level of financial institutions and governments in some countries.¹

This leaves them well positioned to monetize blockchain. For the CSP, blockchain opens up the potential for improved efficiencies as well as new revenue growth. IBM’s industry model shows the development of two key plays: the customer experience/efficiency play to become digital services providers (DSPs) and the growth play to become digital services enablers (DSEs).²

We found that 36 percent of CSP executives surveyed indicated they are already considering or actively engaged with blockchains. Though blockchain technology is still young and evolving, many CSP executives expressed confidence in its potential for their organization.

For those organizations already engaged with blockchain, there is a strong focus on its business use cases and outcome potential. This paper outlines advice for those in early stages of investigation and adoption, including targeting real use cases and working with partners to learn where the value lies, as well as how to capture and monetize a clear role in emerging blockchain ecosystems.

¹ Fox, Bob, Nick Gurney, Mario Cavestany, and Rob van den Dam. “The trust factor in the cognitive era: How CSPs can capitalize on personal data while preserving privacy.” IBM Institute for Business Value. February 2017. https://www.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/thoughtleadership/digitaltrust/

² Fox, Bob, Nick Gurney, and Rob van den Dam. “Outthinking disruption in communications: The 2020 CSP in the cognitive era.” IBM Institute for Business Value. February 2016. https://www.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/thoughtleadership/2020csp/


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Additional content

Meet the authors

Utpal Mangla, IBM Global Leader Watson AI, IoT, and Blockchain

Mike Alexander

Connect with author:


, Global Telecommunications Industry Chief Architect


Mathews Thomas

Connect with author:


, Global Sales Technical Leadership


Rob van den Dam, Global Industry Leader - Telecommunications


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