New IBM Patent: Switching Mobile Service Providers Using Blockchain

  • The new patent describes a system that makes it easier for people to switch service providers while keeping the same phone number.
  • Current number portability services are inefficient, costly, and slow, and can take up to 15 days.
IBM logo on a building

IBM logo on a building. Dice Insights

Filed on April 4, 2019, and granted on December 17, 2019 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the patent describes a system that solves the current problem of switching mobile service provides while keeping your phone number.

Currently, this process is handled by a number portability service, which IBM argues is inefficient, costly, and slow.

Interaction with service provider administrators, paperwork such as porting forms, exchange of SMSs, submission of personal identity documents, and payments of existing bills, all constitute a part of a conventional number portability process, which can take up to 15 working days depending on the service provider.

These limitations can be removed by using blockchain technology in the process of switching mobile service providers, argues the new patent. The process will become “faster, more efficient, and less costly”.

Illustration of a network diagram portraying the switching of a mobile service provider using blockchain
Illustration of a network diagram portraying the switching of a mobile service provider using blockchain. IBM

The above illustration depicts only one example of switching mobile service providers while keeping the same phone number described in the patent, where:

  • A number portability request is received from a mobile device.
  • The mobile service provider fetches mobile device porting data.
  • If verified, the mobile service provider sends a request to the blockchain to update the current mobile service provider.
  • The mobile service provider receives a notification from the blockchain of disconnection between the current mobile service provider and the mobile device.
  • Finally, the mobile service provider updates the mobile device’s porting date on the blockchain.

Several other illustrations and explanations provided in the patent images describe other examples that use blockchain technology to vastly improve on current number portability services provided by mobile service providers.

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