In a press release published October 5 on the government website GOV.UK, it was announced that telecom regulator Ofcom received a £700,000 (just under $915,000) for a blockchain project aimed at improving phone number management.
Ofcom released their own press release about the project, stating that there are roughly 1 billion phone numbers available to U.K. residents, “either already in use or reserved for allocation.”
Ofcom explained that:
We issue blocks of these numbers to telecoms operators, who manage the numbers and movement (porting) of them into and out of their control.
As the UK transitions from traditional analog systems to an Internet-based infrastructure, the current system may face issues. Ofcom aims to use blockchain technology to lower costs, make porting more efficient, help improve fraud management and provide customers with a better user experience.
Ofcom’s chief technology officer Mansoor Hanif stated that the regulator would collaborate with industry members, saying:
We will be working with industry to explore how blockchain could make it quicker and easier for landline customers to switch providers while keeping their number – as well as reducing nuisance calls. And we’ll expand our research into other areas where innovative technologies such as blockchain could be applied to benefit consumers.
Ofcom has previously attempted to develop a new database to help create these needed improvements but has not had any success so far. Centralized databases tend to be expensive propositions and can become a barrier towards collaboration, but a blockchain platform would offer an “opportunity to build a cost-effective and future-proof solution.”
The regulator aims to test the project before an industry rollout, and fully intends to share key findings, best practices, and the code base, if applicable, to other regulatory bodies.
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