Blockchain gets a Spot on the Agenda at Mobile World Congress 2018

Faith Obafemi
Feb 21, 2018

Right now, it's rare to find a tech focused event that doesn't include the 'B' word hype. Well, at the upcoming World Mobile World Congress 2018, blockchain would be the spotlight at a session on “IoT Security and the Blockchain.”

The session is scheduled to hold on Monday, February 26 and will be exploring the convergence of IoT and blockchain with focus of keeping data and devices secure. The session will be moderated by Analyst Ian Hughes of 451 Research. To keep the network secure, IoT devices will be validated on the blockchain. Ian says: “It’s a data point with context. The device in a common group would potentially stop or know if it was asked to do things it wasn’t doing before.”

One of the presenters at the Congress will be Anoop Nannra, head of blockchain initiatives at Cisco. For him, there are several potential strategies IoT connected devices and sensors on he network. “For a simple sensor, we don’t see any blockchain client or application running on that sensor. But there could be an IoT gateway that is connected to that sensor that receives that data, and that device would have a blockchain client on it and know how to communicate to a blockchain network. If you have a less resources-constrained device, it could run a full blockchain node on it," said Nannra.

Nannra is active in the blockchain and IoT space, as in addition to his role at Cisco, he also chairs the Trusted IoT Alliance, formed in September last year. In a statement about the Alliance, he said: “It’s the world’s only blockchain and IoT focused industry consortium. It’s probably the only group looking specifically at blockchain and IoT at that intersection.”


Blockchain Chips

Connecting physician devices to IoT requires chips. With increased security and data storage in mind, the industry has been shifting to blockchain chips. Filament, a blockchain startup has been frequent in IoT and blockchain discussions because of their numerous projects in this front. A notable one is their transforming the shipping industry by giving containers blockchain IoT chips. They then monitor data through their blockchain software Blocklet.

Representatives from two chip manufacturing companies, ARM and Qualcomm, will be on the panel at the MWC. According to Hughes: “I think there will be a focus from chip manufacturers. A secure identity that is baked into the hardware could be used on the blockchain to identify the device.”


Mobile Operators and Blockchain

We have seen news about a few blockchain plus mobile operators projects. For instance, Verizon has promised to launch a portfolio of KSI blockchain based services later in the the year. These services are intended to be offered via Verizon's Virtual Network. Another worth noting is T-mobile's registration as a participant in the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Sawtooth project. Commenting on the participation in the project, Warren McNeel, SVP of digital technology and development at T-Mobile said:  “As the un-carrier, T-Mobile approaches the wireless industry differently. Using Hyperledger Sawtooth as a platform, the company created Sawtooth Hyper Directory as an Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution.”

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