AT&T Granted Patent for Bitcoin-Powered Subscriber Server Device

US telecommunications giant AT&T has been awarded a patent for a bitcoin-powered ‘decentralized and distributed home subscriber server’ device.

According to records from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), AT&T filed its first patent application over two years ago on April 6, 2015, before ultimately being awarded the patent on May 30th.

A ‘home subscriber server’ is the master database that enables the delivery of IP media services on a network for a home user. Details from the patent reveal AT&T’s plan for a decentralized home subscriber system in a peer to peer network of base station devices sharing a database on a blockchain. In the event of a node outage or a cyberattack faced by a node, the distributed home server system would not be affected.

Notably, AT&T is looking at building such an application over the Bitcoin blockchain, rather than opting to choose a private blockchain which is increasingly becoming a common trend among companies adopting the innovative decentralized technology.

“[T] the disclosed decentralized and distributed secure home subscriber server system can leverage the Bitcoin blockchain; the distributed database in the bitcoin infrastructure. Moreover, in accordance with additional and/alternative embodiments, the decentralized and distributed secure home subscriber server system can employ a peer-to-peer network of nodes involved in the decentralized and distributed secure home subscriber server system to operate their own internal distributed block chain,” read an excerpt from the patent filing.

The filing reveals AT&T’s understanding of the robustness of the public Bitcoin blockchain, furthering underlining its aversion to using its own implementation of a blockchain.

The patent application explained:

As with the Bitcoin operation, although a compromised network node could attempt to corrupt the distributed database, this would not be possible unless a majority of the nodes were compromised. Moreover, in the event of a node (e.g. base station device) being down or overwhelmed by an overloading attack, the disclosed distributed secure home subscriber server system operation would be unaltered and only mobile devices under the coverage of a victim base station device would be affected.

Few other details are known and the patent represents one of the earliest publicly-known efforts of AT&T foraying to explore the use of blockchain technology.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Last modified: March 4, 2021 4:57 PM

Samburaj Das

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