Spanish Telco Telefonica Hints at Blockchain Role in Data Tracking

Telefonica has filed for a patent outlining a potential type of data transfer network that uses a blockchain to ensure reliability.

Oct 13, 2017 at 9:15 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:01 a.m. UTC

Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider Telefonica may be looking to apply blockchain as a way to cryptographically verify data, according to newly released documents.

On Oct. 12, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published an application for a "Method to Assure Correct Data Traversal Through a Particular Path of a Network." The document outlines a way to transfer data from one point to another using a specific path through a Service Function Chain (SFC).

The patent also describes how a blockchain could be used to track the data to ensure it follows the correct path and arrives at the proper endpoint, thus improving the SFC's reliability.

As the document explains:

"According to an embodiment, a blockchain platform is provided to assure the sequence of processing for the data packet(s) received from the network. In this particular case, each transaction entering the network architecture (e.g. the SFC architecture) is used to create a block of the blockchain platform that is aggregated in the chain and replicated in a decentralized peer-to-peer architecture comprising a plurality of nodes, wherein each Service Function Path (SFP) of the network architecture comprises a node."

A major supplier of telecommunications services, Telefonica has an interest in maintaining the integrity of data. The company operates across the globe, and is ranked 153 on the Fortune Global 500 list of companies.

In the application, the company explains that traditional, non-SFC systems are dependent on a network's underlying infrastructure, arguing that this restricts how much information can be sent and how it is delivered.

Non-SFC architectures do provide a high level of reliability and ensure data is sent, however. On the other hand, SFC architectures are independent of the network's design, but at the same time, they can't reliably prove that data being sent is arriving at its destination.

To counteract this flaw, Telefonica outlined a plan to provide each data packet with a unique identifier. Every time a packet is transferred, the transaction is logged. If implemented using blockchain technology, those transactions are logged in each new block on the ledger.

Fiber optics image via Shutterstock

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