Cable is ready to kick the tires on blockchain in 2018

Cloud storage providers are exploring using blockchain to subsidize free or cheep services (Image Rick_Jo / iStockPhoto)
Blockchain is a transformational technology, according to CableLab's Steve Goeringer. (ComputerWorld Hong Kong)

The cable operator industry is poised to further embrace blockchain technology this year. Steve Goeringer, principal security architect at cable consortium CableLabs, wrote in a blog on Thursday that this is the "year that cable starts to integrate blockchain solutions, but it will be quiet and subtle."

Blockchain, which was developed for Bitcoin, is a digitized, distributed ledger of transactions, which can be particularly relevant to IoT security, according to Goeringer. Goeringer wrote that blockchain was transformational because transactions were recorded statements of fact that could be used by businesses, regulators, operators and their customers.

CableLabs is responsible for driving innovation for the technologies used by its membership, which have included the various implementations of DOCSIS over the years as well as the more recent development of distributed access architecture technologies.

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"Cable operators are developing (blockchain) capabilities now, but it’s too early to share successes and lessons learned," Goeringer wrote. "Should cable operators work together to create their own blockchains? Perhaps. Ensuring control of the software that enables a blockchain to work across multiple partners will be essential to the success of blockchain projects.

"Governance of the code base and the processes to develop consensus is at the heart of implementing blockchains. Although blockchain use cases are often subtle, they can also be business-critical once they’re mature."

At the very least, IoT security and advertising look like good bets for cable's 2018 blockchain ambitions. FierceCable wrote in February that Comcast Ventures had formed a "Blockchain Crew" to look at potential investments for its use, while Multichannel News reported the same month that Comcast was looking at using blockchain for home automation.

On the telco side of the blockchain ledger, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile announced in March that they would use blockchain as part of a mobile authentication platform. The telcos, which formed the Mobile Authentication Taskforce, are implementing blockchain to develop one password for all of their subscribers' mobile phone applications.

AT&T has partnered with Amino Payments to use blockchain for better transparency of digital payments, according to AdExchanger, while Verizon is deploying blockchain technology from Guardtime as a service offering to enterprise customers.