AT&T, one of the largest telecom operators in the United States, has been awarded a bitcoin patent for a newly developed subscription system, marking one of the most innovative potential deployments of the technology to date.
The system is designed for home subscriber servers, which regulate and validate the delivery of services to their subscriber network. The patent is for a blockchain-backed technology, which AT&T has considered deploying on the bitcoin blockchain directly, in place of an implementation of their own.
The technology is designed to make their subscriber servers more robust, by providing for a more distributed network of delivery points for decentralized data sharing.
By leveraging the decentralized nature of blockchain technology, AT&T is aiming to develop infrastructure that will make it more resilient to the challenges of serving their subscribers network-wide.
The patent application, which has now been accepted, stipulates that through using the bitcoin blockchain, the eventual technology can take advantage of the existing infrastructure available to provide its core, decentralized, functionality.
“In cases where the decentralized and distributed secure home subscriber server system utilizes the bitcoin blockchain, advantage can be taken of the plethora of nodes contributing and maintaining the security of bitcoin transactions.”
While previously known to be working on blockchain research projects, much of the detail of AT&T’s efforts has been kept under wraps. The latest patent application gives some indication of ways they may seek to deploy the technology in future.
It joins several other patents filed by AT&T surrounding distributed ledger technology in the last few months, including plans for an in-car payments system that would rely on transactions in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
As one of the biggest players in their sector, AT&T’s support for blockchain and cryptocurrency applications more generally will be interpreted as a significant vote of confidence in the future of this emerging technology.
They join numerous other large corporations, government agencies and central banks in exploring the tech, which it is thought could have a significant impact on administrative functions, compliance and a range of other business processes.