Asset volumes are only going to go up
The telecom equipment, services, and wireless communications segments are growing fast, with the global telecom network infrastructure estimated to surpass USD 120 billion by 2027, indicating a massive increase in the number of assets. The emergence of 5G telecommunication and next-generation networks, which has resulted in improved bandwidth, reliability, and latency requirements, has accelerated this demand. This means that the investment required for asset upgrades will also increase.
Asset management today is fraught with problems
Management of assets such as real estate, passive and active telecom equipment, and other cabling requires multiple vendors and operators at each cell site to cater to the different needs of the telecom operators, making it difficult for them to track their respective assets deployed at various sites. These are some of the gaps in the current asset management process:
- Manual tracking relies on multi cross-functional teams and leads to frequent data reconciliations, human error, and data manipulation.
- Asset management tools rely on manual paper-based processes and team collaboration with no concrete evidence to validate the data displayed.
- Hiring security guards is costly.
When tackling the challenges in asset management, one must explore real-life scenarios and possibilities. For example, one may disorient or damage the assets of another operator while tracking their own during field visits. Assets also pose an 80–90% chance of mismanagement when the need arises to move them every few years – for instance telecom towers, from one place to another. Since many network operators consider security guards a costly option, asset theft can result in significant losses.
We believe blockchain technology can counter trust and security threats to a large extent. A growing list of blocks or chains linked together by the cryptographic hash function, blockchains contain specific asset details owned by a particular network operator securely and genuinely grouped (non-editable data) in a network.
Integrating blockchain in 5G asset management
Blockchain’s decentralized structure handles all the asset tracking, movement, and utilization related to network operators and service providers. While a centralized database is more of a snapshot of information at a specific point and does not allow to refer to past details in case of discrepancies, it is possible to check the history of any asset and related details at any point in time within the blockchain structure.
A boon for network operators and service providers, blockchain delivers numerous advantages over traditional asset management methods. Network operators must explore these to ensure security and transparency in asset management. Here is how blockchain scores over traditional methods:
- Improved security and privacy: An unaltered view of asset utilization and movement with end-to-end encryption provides complete information about the assets.
- Visibility and traceability: Blockchain applications provide better-localized visibility into asset usage and conducting auditability of activities performed at each site.
- Asset tokenization: This feature allows asset details to be recorded in a digital token which is then appended to the blockchain. Tokenization is a non-destructive form of obfuscation; data is easily recoverable through a unique security key.
- Decentralized structure: Since blockchain transactions contain their proof of validity and authorization, there is no need for a central administrator to enable real-time data sharing.
Blockchain’s immutability makes it impossible for changes to be made once established. Thus, by enabling trust between nodes, network operators can build trust among themselves as they now have valid data to rely on. Blockchain will therefore provide asset visibility to everyone in the network site lifecycle, making it easier to track assets between the cross-functional teams securely.
Blockchain ups the ante on security and transparency
With the evolution of technology, organizations are looking for innovative ways to reduce the underlying costs of asset management and improve long-term business profitability. Business leaders and decision-makers now need to go beyond traditional approaches and adopt more reliable and robust technologies such as blockchain to overcome the challenges of evolving network technologies. Moreover, with blockchain technology all set to go the long haul, it will help network operators and service providers reap long-term benefits, ensuring trust in asset data and security.