Industry Specification Group (ISG) Permissioned Distributed Ledger (PDL) Activity Report 2023

Chair: Shahar Steiff, PCCW Global B.V.

Analyzing and providing foundations for the operation of permissioned distributed ledgers, with the ultimate purpose of creating an open ecosystem of industrial solutions to be deployed by different sectors, fostering the application of these technologies. Contributing to consolidate the trust and dependability on information technologies supported by global, open telecommunications networks.

Distributed ledger technologies record transactions and their details in multiple places at the same time, in a manner that eliminates the need for a centralized data store or administration functionality as with traditional databases.

Their ability to store any kind of data as a consensus of replicated, shared, and synchronized digital records distributed across multiple sites – without depending on any central administrator, together with their properties regarding immutability (and therefore non-repudiation) and multi-party verifiability – opens a wide range of applications, and new interaction models among those entities willing to record the transactions associated to those interactions through these ledgers. While distributed ledgers are mostly known because of their use to facilitate cryptocurrencies, there are many other uses besides those. Examples include smart contracts, support to digital identity attributes, object tracking, or the verification of adherence to service level agreements.

While most ledgers in ICT are already centralized, recent approaches based on distributed ledgers can provide higher openness, reduced dependency on third parties and better resiliency.

Permissioned (managed) distributed ledgers (PDL) in particular are suited to business-oriented use cases of industry and governmental institutions. From a technical perspective, PDL reduces the cost and delays of recording a transaction as access to such ledger is only permitted to trusted participants; other benefits include lower costs associated with implementing a consensus algorithm, offline operation and the fairness properties among participants. In parallel, the legal benefits of PDL include the support from external legal agreements or the regulatory enforcement in critical sectors.

ETSI’s Industry Specification Group on Permissioned Distributed Ledgers (ISG PDL) is exploring the challenges presented by the operation of permissioned distributed ledgers. The group also addresses application scenarios, functional architecture and solutions for the operation of permissioned distributed ledgers, including interfaces/APIs/protocols and information/data models.

In 2023 ISG PDL released a further suite of deliverables to support industry’s and government institutions’ rapidly expanding need for PDL solutions.

Group Specification GS PDL 015 explores the use and applicability of reputation management in a PDL, with a focus on indicators such as quality of service, trustworthiness and commercial reliability. It also presents mathematical formulas used for calculating reputation based on actual performance, as well as discussing GDPR aspects of reputation.

Group Report GR PDL 019 presents the potential security and privacy benefits of decentralized identification that can benefit various public and private services. It also discusses a set of PDL services that can together enable a PDL-based Identity and Trust Management framework.

Group Report GR PDL 020 offers a description of wireless consensus network architecture. It includes an examination of ways to construct wireless consensus networks, as well as discussing protocols, use cases for wireless consensus network and performance metrics of consensus mechanisms.

Group Report GR PDL 021 provides an overview of use cases/scenarios of PDL specific to mobile networks by referring deliverables of major existing standardization bodies. Identifying issues to specialized PDL solutions to operators' networks among different domains and system layers. The study explores impact to the mobile network system architecture referring 3GPP 5G architecture as a base.

A revision of Group Specification PDL 012 V1.2.1 defines a reference architecture for a Permissioned Distributed Ledger platform. This revision aligns with changes implemented to the GSMA version of the PDL RA.

A revision of Group Report GR PDL 018 V1.2.1 on Redactable Distributed Ledgers covers additional ledger structures (e.g., triple-hash chain structure), additional redaction-related functions (e.g. redaction verification), and additional use cases (e.g., redaction in existing ledger systems, use profile management in telecom networks).

During the year work meanwhile progressed on further deliverables, notably:

  • A Group Report (to be published as GR PDL 017) describing the features of a PDL to be applicable as a qualified electronic ledger in eIDAS.
  • A Group Specification (to be published as GS PDL 022) that discusses the use of PDL in a multi-domain/multi-entity (provider/issuer) wholesale supply chain.
  • A Group Specification (to be published as GS PDL 023) on PDL service enablers for Decentralized Identification and Trust Management.
  • A Group Specification (to be published as GS PDL 024) on Architecture enhancements for PDL service provisioning in telecom networks.
  • A Group Specification (to be published as GS PDL 025) that specifies the services of Permissioned Distributed Ledger (PDL) platform, to enable wireless distributed consensus for reliable industrial connected autonomous systems.
  • A Group Specification (to be published as GS PDL 026) that discusses PDL in commercial settlement of usage-based services.
  • A Group Specification (to be published as GS PDL 027) that specifies the technical requirements and solutions based on PDL to build a native self‑sovereign identity (SSI) system under the constraints of telecom networks.
  • A Group Report (to be published as GR PDL 028) that explores how PDL can be employed in standardized oneM2M IoT service layer platforms through various use cases.

See the full list of ISG PDL Work Items currently in development here.

ISG PDL meanwhile continues to develop a number of Proofs-of-Concept (PoCs) in order to facilitate collaboration with research projects developing or incorporating distributed ledger technologies.

Find out more on the PDL technology page.