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Over the past few decades, the process of reconciling service-level agreement disputes between telecommunication carriers has become increasingly convoluted. If you’ve been on either the buying or selling side of a recent claim, you know full well that the ultimate resolution is far from 100 percent ideal. Worse, the time and effort involved in the process consumes valuable resources for, at best, uncertain returns.
The good news is the solution is finally here.
MEF in partnership with Sage Management, Inc., the telecom and blockchain division of SIB, is piloting a revolutionary blockchain-based subscription service for automating the SLA reporting process. This pilot is derived from the MEF Wolf Town Accelerator in which MEF members Orchest and Sparkle are using a member-defined open pre-standard smart contract in the roles of buyer and seller respectively. Based on the results of the pilot, this service is expected to be available to any service provider that is party to an SLA as either buyer or seller.
Why blockchain is the only answer to a better SLA process.
MEF believes blockchain is the path forward, not just for SLAs, but for the challenges inherent to many telecom business lifecycle processes such as ordering and billing, and product inventory–to name just two examples. On one level, the rationale is simple. Blockchain conceptually is a shared computer system where buyer and seller record and process information in a shared, transparent, trusted, and real-time environment. Instead of each party coding their own separate interpretation of the agreement, which likely won’t match, blockchain provides an environment to mutually agree upon and automatically enforce terms by leveraging a unique combination of MEF’s standardized APIs and open standard smart contracts. This eliminates the need for disputes and reconciliation later when the terms of an SLA are not met.
April Taylor, SVP of blockchain for Sage Management, provides a technical explanation of blockchain’s advantages in a blog post titled Are You Ready for Blockchain? It boils down to the reality that the legacy billing systems still being used by carriers today simply can’t accommodate the newer technologies driving innovation and advancement in the industry. Carriers are forced into what Taylor calls a “reactive patchwork method of approaching change by layering swivel-chair fixes to processes and systems,” ultimately ushering in new and increasingly complex financial, operational, and emotional challenges at every step.
Blockchain and smart contracts solve for all that. But is blockchain truly the only path forward? In the August 10th episode of the MEF Forum Executives at the Edge Podcast Sage Management CEO Tiffany Brown joined host Pascal Menezes, CTO, MEF, to pose just that question. While Menezes pointed out that blockchain technology is the key to driving Metaverse and Web 3.0, he asked Brown if the same technology is equally essential in the telecommunication space. The answer? A resounding yes.
In Brown’s words, “I’m convinced that (blockchain is) the only way to fix the issues that are out there. . . . The carriers have tried for 25 years . . . to create patches to fix it, and it just doesn’t work. The reason blockchain is necessary, and I think it’s the only path forward, is it completely eliminates these archaic systems. It’s the only path that truly eliminates the systems that are broken. It allows for mutual endorsement, a single source of truth, including mutual agreement on price, rates, terms, (and) conditions at the time of the order. I’ve never seen any other solution achieve that outside of a blockchain environment.”
But what about cost and security?
Brown points out that, until recently, only the largest trading partners have been able to tap into the many advantages of blockchain. Private blockchain solutions are unaffordable for all but the world’s largest 1% of carriers, and public blockchains pose significant privacy concerns.
That, too, has changed.
Brown’s Pipeline article on Blockchain for All Telecom Carriers unpacks how recent advancements in zero-knowledge proofs, or zero knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machines (zkEVMs), are eliminating the cost and security barriers to public blockchain. In the article, she explains, “Because of zero knowledge, the users do not compromise the privacy of their secrets in the process of providing the proof. Any user can see the proof, but not the contract logic or data behind it. Only the carriers to which the proof applies have access to the correlated, behind-the-scenes records and proprietary information securely contained within them.”
This paves the way for any carrier to join a public blockchain solution through a subscription service at a nominal cost.
MEF and Sage Management are excited to demo the MEF Accelerator Wolf Town zkEVM public blockchain solution for all GNE attendees during the MEF Accelerator Live portion of the conference, with presentations on Tuesday, 3 October, and Wednesday, 4 October. The presentations will give a closer look at this first-of-its kind live use case and the smart contracts and APIs behind it.
If you want to be among the first to glimpse the future of telecom, we hope you’ll join us at The Global NaaS Event to learn how SLA reporting automation could be a reality for your organization in the very near future.Tags: automation, MEF Accelerator, SLAs, Wolf Town