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T-Mobile Parent Company Joins Bitcoin Mining Wave in Telecom Industry

Last Updated June 17, 2024 12:59 PM
James Morales
Last Updated June 17, 2024 12:59 PM

Key Takeaways

  • T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom intends to start mining Bitcoin.
  • The firm already operates a Bitcoin node and several other blockchain validators.
  • Telecom firms are increasingly entering the BTC mining space.

More and more telecom companies are branching out into Bitcoin mining, highlighting the decentralized collective of miners’ growing importance as a global digital infrastructure.

In the latest example of the trend, T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom (DK) said it plans to mine Bitcoin in the near future. At the BTC Prague event on Friday, June 14, DK Head of Blockchain Solutions Dirk Röder confirmed that the company has been running a Bitcoin node for a while and is now ready to start mining. engage in what he called “digital monetary photosynthesis.”

Deutsche Telekom Embraces Blockchain

During a speech at BTC Prague, Rödersaid that DK has been running a Bitcoin node and Bitcoin Lightning nodes since 2022.

“And with a chest full of […] pride, I would like to let you in on a little secret. We will engage in digital monetary photosynthesis soon.” When questioned by host Joe Nakamoto whether that meant T-Mobile would start mining Bitcoin, Roder confirmed that “we will.”

Alongside its Bitcoin node, DK runs validator nodes for Ethereum, Flow, Celo, Chainlink and Q. On May 31, the firm announced  that it is also operating a Polygon validator.

“The collaboration with Polygon is an important step for [DK] to fully exploit the potential of blockchain technology and enable applications suitable for mass deployment,” Röder said at the time. The company “also supports Polygon staking, contributing to the security and decentralization of the blockchain,” he added.

As Europe’s largest telecommunications group, DK’s embrace of Bitcoin is an important symbolic moment for the technology, but it isn’t the only one getting into the mining game. 

Telecom Companies Enter Bitcoin Mining Space

In 2017, the Swedish telecom firm Borderlight became one of the first to enter the BTC mining space when it acquired the specialist hardware manufacturer KnCMiner. 

Several years later, Thailand’s Jasmine Telecom Systems installed  more than 5,000 mining machines in data centers across the country, making it one of the largest Bitcoin miners in the region.

More recently, in June, the Chinese telecom provider Coolpad submitted a filing  with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that revealed it plans to spend $13.5 million to deploy mining rigs in North America.

Given their experience operating data centers, building, installing and managing specialized hardware, branching out into Bitcoin mining can be a synergistic venture for telecommunications firms. But the trend also reflects their general investment in digital infrastructure.

Crypto Mining as Digital Infrastructure

As Bitcoin mining has matured, its role in the global economy has evolved, and the presence of major firms like T-Mobile demonstrates that it is no longer a niche market.

Infrastructuralization has occurred at the physical level in places like Texas, where miners help stabilize the power grid by soaking up excess electricity created by unpredictable renewable energy sources. 

But as well as being entrenched into the energy infrastructure, Bitcoin mining is becoming increasingly embedded into less tangible economies.

Sidechains like Marathon’s ALYS deploy Bitcoin as a security layer for a diverse range of applications. From stablecoins to communication platforms, these days, Bitcoin miners underpin much more than the peer-to-peer payment network originally conceived by Satoshi Nakamoto. 

For second- and third-generation blockchains capable of executing sophisticated smart contracts, validator networks support an even greater array of apps and services. (Although Bitcoin could soon catch up.)

Unlike the state-operated systems that dominated in the 20th century, modern telecommunications networks are less dependent on hard, heavy infrastructure and more amenable to dynamic, decentralized assemblages of cell towers, cables antennas and satellites. 

Likewise, Bitcoin’s consensus scheme is the collective effort of thousands of distributed miners operating at every scale. DK and its peers are the latest new members of the collective. But by design, participation is open to anyone.

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