China Telecom eyes blockchain-5G integration

5G has been a hot topic in the global technology sector in recent years. While most laypeople view the next-generation mobile era from the perspective of faster on-the-go internet speeds, the fact is that the technology offers many more possibilities.

And one way of taking it to a new level is incorporating blockchain and enhancing the scope of the applications to bring in the crypto element, as a Chinese telecoms operator seems to be doing now. 

According to reports, China Telecom, the second-largest mobile operator in the world’s most populous nation, is actively considering plans to develop blockchain-enabled 5G SIM cards that will support crypto units used for trading.

The carrier is said to be seeking to develop SIM cards that will provide support for Ethereum and ERC20 tokens, and be compatible with all types of smartphones.

Under the plan, the new SIM cards will also have superior safety features to enable secure transactions across 5G networks, including digital authentication for decentralized identification.

A smartphone will be turned into a decentralized node, helping establish a highly secure network whenever someone buys a device.

Should China Telecom’s plan succeed, it will build one of the world’s largest blockchains with tens of millions of users. The large blockchain network will enable the Chinese carrier to become one of the leading platforms for cryptocurrency exchange, as the SIM card will allow people to use virtual units on the go.

Such initiative could help China take a big step forward and emerge as a leading player in cryptocurrency use.

China Telecom’s plans come as the People’s Bank of China, the nation’s central bank, is preparing to launch its own sovereign digital currency. 5G and cryptocurrency could be a killer combination for authorities to drive 5G penetration in urban areas.

For China Telecom, the initiative could help the operator differentiate itself in the market, and compete better with China Mobile, the nation’s dominant mobile carrier. 

China Telecom is not only building a 5G network for communications, it also aims to establish a whole blockchain application ecosystem to improve the mobile network operations, addressing issues such as fraud, harassment, loss of data and identity theft, media reports have said, citing a whitepaper issued by the firm’s research arm.

The company document discusses a SIM card-based blockchain digital asset management system, among other things.

China Telecom will deploy blockchain in anti-theft and anti-loss management, creating blacklists associated with trusted IMEIs and encrypting it through blockchain.

When a mobile device gets blacklisted, carriers, smartphone suppliers and end-users can immediately identify and disable stolen devices through the technology, China Telecom wrote in the whitepaper, blockchain and cypto news platform Cointelegraph reported late last month.

If China Telecom uses blockchain technology to link with each smartphone IMEI, it could shake up the second-hand mobile phone market in China and Hong Kong. It’s no secret that currently many Hong Kong people sell their used phones to middlemen who then take those phones to China to sell at a margin.

But if blockchain technology is deployed, every smartphone will be stuck with a unique user identity. If there is abnormal change in the phone ownership, it could raise suspicion that the handset may have been stolen from someone.

China Telecom is said to have signaled that the 5G blockchain will have five major application scenarios, including digital identity verification, financial application and supply chain tracing.

In large-scale deployment of Internet of Things networks, blockchain could prove an effective means to monitor network security.

Blockchain, the company says, is the only technology that can enable users to secure their data in the coming 5G era, regardless of the data volume, variety or dimension.

Get set for some exciting developments in the near future.

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