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An economic model for the Internet of Trust
November 02, 2017 | By Thierry Van de Velde @ Nokia Networks (thierry.van_de_velde@nokia.com)
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We are pleased to share with you all an interesting article contributed by Thierry Van de Velde who is technology specialist in Mobile Internet networks, architecture and solutions.

 
 

Thierry Van de Velde​ 

Consulting Technology Specialist at Nokia, IP & Optical Networking

 

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ITU-T telephony, 3GPP cellular networks (2G/3G/4G/5G) and IEEE 802 networks (Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) have something in common : a precisely defined and persistent identity for every end point. Other successful networks have been built entirely on these identities, e.g. WhatsApp which is based on the ITU-T E.164 mobile phone number.

 

Whereas some networks only admit end points following authentication (of a 3GPP SIM for example), on other networks (LAN, WLAN and Bluetooth PAN) it is sufficient for the MAC address to be unique on the local network segment. Both models have their merits, use cases and disadvantages. Smartphones use both SIM-based authentication to 4G/3G/2G networks and unauthenticated access via Wi-Fi (except with Carrier Wi-Fi).

 

In a previous article (The IoT: Identification of Things?) I had pleaded for the identification of the DTE (the computer, the smartphone or other connected object), not the DCE (modem) or NIC (Network Interface Card). A digital identity for the IoT, which we started calling the "telecoin" here at Nokia. Telecoins can be mined in a factory, just like bitcoins : the network operator limits the number of valid telecoins by imposing a difficulty condition (e.g. 10 leading zeroes) on the shared secret Diffie-Hellman value (cf. European Patent application 16290189) rather than on the end node identity itself (IPSec IDi payload) or on its IPv6 address (e.g. the Cryptographically Generated IPv6 Address).

 

Following identification and authentication today's mobile and fixed operators can charge their users (prepaid customers or contract subscribers). Mobile network operators set up roaming agreements whereby the home network operator pays the visited network operator for providing services to authenticated users.

 

Despite a general hunger for bandwidth today's revenues (ARPU) from communication services (internet access, voice telephony, etc.) are under constant pressure. Mobile operators tried diversifying by reselling smartphones and even insurances. Fixed broadband operators expanded into IPTV and video on demand. Raw internet access is abundant and commoditised.

 

Without security the Internet of Things cannot and will not emerge. Operators will face difficult choices such as barring all traffic to a phone, home or enterprise if infected objects are attached to that smartphone, residential gateway or enterprise CPE. However these very same Operators can play an essential role in identifying, authenticating, interconnecting and then inspecting the behaviour of connected objects (see Deepfield).

 

Without a healthy business model the IoT won't emerge either. Manufacturers and users of connected objects (cameras, flowerpots, bicycles, drones etc) are willing to pay a marginal price for each object being properly connected, to the IPv6 Internet or preferably to a private network. But they are unwilling to sign up to SIM cards being shipped in paper envelopes. Or to receive monthly invoices.

 

Operators could thus transform from sellers of connectivity into sellers of modern digital identity, authentication and mobility. Operators would determine the difficulty condition for each category of object, desired bandwidth or degree of mobility - hence the market price of each telecoin. They would either purchase telecoins from factories (as they do for SIM cards today) or mine for telecoins themselves. Miners would sell telecoins on stock exchanges, where object manufacturers and/or end users would purchase them. SIM card suppliers would transform into telecoin miners.

 

The telecoin installed by the manufacturer in your washing machine could be recognized and authenticated by any operator over any access technology, not just by a single operator over a single access technology (as today's SIM based access to a NB-IoT network). There would be no need to establish roaming agreements nor to route all traffic via some "home" operator. Connected objects presenting telecoins over WPA2, IKE or TLS security associations would obtain better bandwidth from the local network; and the more they'd communicate the more chances they'd get to find a better telecoin, which would again be universally recognized. Over time the operators would place objects not containing a valid telecoin in quarantine zones with reduced access rights and stringent firewall rules. In parallel a genuine Internet of Trust would be born.

 

It is this vision, this economic model for the Internet of Trust for which I would welcome your feedback...

 
     
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