Blockchain’s burgeoning popularity is piquing interest in new places. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a branch of the US Department of Commerce, has identified blockchain’s potential to help American entrepreneurs. The agency announced in early June that they were soliciting ideas for new policies from “all interested stakeholders – businesses, civil society groups, the technical community, academics, and the general public” that will shape the NTIA’s future international internet policy priorities.
The NTIA is an executive branch agency “principally responsible by law for advising the President on telecommunications and information policy issues…[focusing] largely on expanding broadband internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, and ensuring that the internet remains an engine for continued innovation and economic growth.” The agency believes that addressing these goals will optimize American competitiveness in the global economy while also being applicable to needs at home.
Blockchain in telecommunications is not a new idea but has been gaining traction as organizations figure out how to apply the technology to their needs. IBM, a vocal leader in bringing blockchain to businesses, has outlined its potential in telecommunications to create new revenue streams, streamline internal processes, and handle complex transactions between multiple parties, all at a lower cost to business. The company believes that blockchain’s inherent transparency is valuable for any organization working in the ‘Internet of Things’ – a vast ecosystem filled with potential use cases.
David Redl, NTIA administrator and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, elaborated on the agency’s quest to “encourage growth and innovation for the internet and internet-enabled economy,” specifying that “[the NTIA] want risk-taking American entrepreneurs to have access to global markets for their digital products and services. We expect that in the coming years, our focus will increasingly be on artificial intelligence, automated workforces, blockchain technologies and more. We want to know how we should participate in international discussions of these issues.”
The NTIA has not yet made any concrete plans for blockchain, but it’s openness to the idea is promising. Its parent organization, the Department of Commerce, began exploring use cases for the immutable ledger in a December conference, focusing on digital copyright information. At the 2018 State of the Net conference, Redl confirmed the NTIA’s goal to lead the adoption of emerging technologies and encourage the government to “make the right choices,” with blockchain functioning as a tentpole of that effort. Blockchain future appears bright within the government – and offers potential to help businesses across the American spectrum.