The UK‘s national telecommunications regulatory authority Ofcom has received a GBP 700,000 grant from the government to research a blockchain solution for management of the country’s landline telephone numbers.

Ofcom revealed details of the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund in a press release on Monday, outlining why the issue at hand requires such an investment. It cites that approximately 1 billion phone numbers in the UK are currently being actively used or reserved for use, with blocks of this data shared with telecoms operators that manage the movement of numbers according to whether or not they are in use.

A blockchain management system is said by Ofcom to potentially increase the overall efficiency of data sharing within the agency, while also providing UK telecoms clients with a better experience through improved management of nuisance and fraud calls. This also helps streamline the process of changing telephone numbers.

A new centralized data sharing platform was said in the press release to have failed the agency because it would simply be too expensive to develop; a blockchain option would be ”cost-effective and future-proof”.

Ofcom chief technology officer Mansoor Hanif said that the agency would pursue other areas that blockchain may be beneficial should this project prove a success, alongside sharing key learnings and best practices with other UK regulators.

He also expects communications businesses collaborating on the project or using the code to develop the necessary skills to pursue their own blockchain innovations, leading to further growth of the blockchain sector.

Ofcom has invited industry participants to trial the porting and management of telephone numbers utilizing blockchain and distributed ledger technology between now and the end of its testing stage in April 2020. A number of universities and third-party providers are expected to participate.

The research grant came from the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

 

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