In late September, US communications giant AT&T announced that it has “created a suite of blockchain solutions designed to work with technology from IBM and Microsoft”.
Like all communication network operators, AT&T has been pushing into the IoT market for some time, and it has the prime contract for cellular data services for Maersk Line’s Remote Container Monitoring (RCM) system for reefers. AT&T is now combining these “edgeto-edge” IoT capabilities with blockchain technology, working with IBM.
“AT&T solutions can record data on the IBM Blockchain Platform, an enterprise-grade blockchain environment supporting numerous live production networks,” stated AT&T. “Currently operating live blockchain networks at scale, IBM Blockchain supports a broad range of industry use cases including supply chain, provenance and logistics.”
At the same time, IBM is also working jointly with Maersk Line in developing blockchain for the new TradeLens platform, which Maersk described as “a digital backbone for the supply chain industry for the real-time, secure, and predictable sharing and storing of information”.
Blockchain has been mentioned by several players as having real potential in cold chain certification, and it would seem like a logical step for AT&T, Maersk and IBM to come together on this. However, a Maersk Line spokesperson said that it is not on the radar at this point. “We are still in our limited availability programme at the moment,” she said, referring to Maersk and IBM’s work on TradeLens, “and are considering what elements to add to the platform”.
She continued: “This also includes IoT device capability. Here, we will be guided by what the industry suggests is most relevant. Basic reefer handling-related data should be available, but RCM is not in the scope as of now.”