Tech giant IBM has hinted that telecommunication firms in India could soon be using blockchain solutions in mobile number portability and in the Do Not Call registry.

According to the IBM Research vice president and CTO of IBM India/South Asia, Sriram Raghavan, the tech giant could launch blockchain solutions focused on Do No Call registries and mobile number portability for Indian telcos as early as next year.

“We have completed proof of concepts and pilots with all the major telecom providers and with TRAI [Telecom Regulatory Authority of India] in this space. We anticipate going into the New Year, we’ll start to see blockchain solutions getting rolled out,” said Raghavan as initially reported by The Economic Times.

India’s Telecommunications Regulator

Besides the telcos, IBM Research has also been collaborating with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to address coordination issues among multiple entities with respect to mobile number portability and the Do Not Call registry. Per Raghavan, the blockchain solution for the mobile number portability and Do Not Call registry service will enhance the functions of TRAI:

“[Blockchain] gives TRAI as a regulator more visibility and spot malfeasance quickly. Mobile number portability too is a multiparty process involving a minimum of two telecom providers, where blockchain can play a role.”

Earlier this year in February, TRAI reviewed various blockchain proofs of concepts before unveiling a set of regulations three months later. What is remaining now is for the telcos to pick vendors and then set up the systems following the guidelines issued by TRAI.

Pushing for the Sector’s Interests

The blockchain efforts by IBM, TRAI and the country’s telcos comes about two months since one of India’s most influential bodies in the wider internet and telecommunications sector, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), formed a blockchain committee tasked with engaging with the various stakeholders in order to develop the distributed ledger technology ecosystem in the country.

“The IAMAI Blockchain Committee will focus on creating dialogue between all stakeholders; curate and create content to aid skill development and move towards creating a participative economy with the usage of blockchain,” the chairperson of the blockchain committee, Tina Singh, said as CCN reported at the time.

Besides its work with Indian telcos and the sector regulator, IBM’s other contribution to the world’s second most populous country with regards to blockchain technology was mid this year when the tech giant launched an educational initiative on distributed ledger technology.

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A patent application published Thursday claims the process of conducting scientific research can benefit from the blockchain.

Led by a team at IBM’s Watson Research Center, the patent application presents a vision for dynamic collaboration – one where researchers can track their work across institutional borders. It’s another non-financial application of the distributed-ledger technology, which IBM has championed in recent months.

This latest patent can be thought of as an elaborate software changelog, but for science. Or, as the filing puts it, a system that provides “a tamper resistant log of scientific research.”

From the filing:

“The blockchain system can form a blockchain representing a research project, wherein the blockchain comprises a first block of research data and a second block of analysis data representing a log of an analysis performed on the research data. Summary blocks and correction blocks can also be added to the blockchain representing the post analysis of the research results.”

The application – titled “Blockchain for Open Scientific Research” – was first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in December 2017. IBM researchers Jae-wook Ahn, Maria Chang, Patrick Watson and Ravindranath Kokku are listed at inventors.

According to the patent, “currently, there are limited platforms that allow for sharing information about scientific research and showing transparent data collection and analysis steps. Platforms that do exist, lack the requisite controls and mechanisms to allow for trustworthy data, as there are few options for ensuring that data will be resistant to modification.”

IBM isn’t the only group working on applying distributed ledger technology to the scientific realm. A Berlin-based think tank, Blockchain for Science, held its first international conference earlier this week.

The blockchain-flavored patent is one of many for Big Blue. According to data published in September, IBM was behind only Chinese internet giant Alibaba in the number of blockchain-related patent filings. The 89 figure quoted at the time has certainly gone up in the past two months:

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